Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tick Island

After relocating his aunt-in-law because of the tornados that hit Alabama, Mike D. came up for a visit. On Saturday, he and C and I headed out to Percy Priest Lake with a kayak, a canoe, and a cooler full of sandwiches and drinks. The plan was to meet up with Jimmy at the Smith Springs boat ramp, paddle out to some of the islands, and enjoy a picnic lunch. Put-in was even easier than we thought since recent rain storms had driven the lake up into the parking lot; we barely had to carry the boats down to the water. But paddling proved to be a windy affair that kept blowing the canoe off course, so we stopped at the first island about a mile from our launch.

We drug a downed tree around to form a bench, and the sandwiches and chips offered a welcome respite from paddling. However, it wasn't long before Mike found a tick crawling up his leg. Like the tick that embedded itself in my knee over at Long Hunter State Park, this one was a female Lone Star Tick, distinguishable by the white dot on its abdomen. We moved our lunch over to a bare dirt area, but our evasion tactics didn't stop the wily blood suckers. In all, Mike found four crawling on his legs, and Jimmy found two. Somehow, C and I escaped the tick onslaught, but after the sixth tick, we packed up our goods, and hit the lake.

Following some paddling around the island, we turned for home and headed into a steady wind, complete with waves going in the wrong direction. Paddling the canoe was a tough go; I finally found that I could angle slightly, allow the wind to push the canoe slightly sideways, and concentrate my paddling on one side. This technique allowed for the most gain, but it was a brutal crossing. Mike's kayak went twice as fast as the canoe, and Jimmy, in his sea kayak, enjoyed ten times my speed. A second paddler would have helped, as would have more weight in the bow, but I finally made it across, dipping behind some shoreline trees and out of the wind and waves.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Warner Woods Trail

Spur of the moment, the family unit hopped in my truck, and off we went to Percy Warner Park, the idea being to try out Warner Woods Trail for the first time. During our hike, E insisted, "I a big girl"—a proclamation indicating she has progressed beyond the Kelty child carrier and will be doing her own hiking from now on. I was worried that the two-and-a-half-mile, "moderate" trail might be too much, but E hung in there and only asked me to carry her on a couple of the final inclines. By herself, she covered over two miles, yelling "¡Salta!" each time she jumped over a root or rock. It's a Dora thing.

Warner Woods Trail is wide, well-marked, and surrounded by lush old woodlands. Honeysuckle is in bloom, and large swaths of the fragrant vines were hanging trailside in a number of spots. Aside from a few squirrels, three deer, and a couple of snails, we didn't spot a lot of wildlife, but we did see quite a few downed trees, including a big maple blocking passage around the second-mile mark. We had to scramble to get past it, and I imagine Metro Parks will have to get out there soon to do some clearing. In terms of difficulty, the trail doesn't feature near as much elevation as nearby Mossy Ridge, and it looks to be a popular spot for trail runners, who zipped past us with fair regularity.

After peering at trail maps, I realize that C and I have now hiked all the main trails that Warner Parks have to offer. At Percy Warner, that means Mossy Ridge and Warner Woods. And at Edwin Warner, the only trail of any note/length is the Harpeth Woods Trail, which we've hiked a couple of times.

Warner Woods Trail

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mossy Ridge Run

Really. There was running, though it surely wasn't me. Mostly it was C running up hills or running to catch up after he'd straggled. Come to think of it, Jimmy's dog, Kacie, ran a good bit too. Still, despite all the bursts of speed yesterday, we took a couple of hours to cover the 4.5 mile Mossy Ridge Trail at Percy Warner Park—mainly because of frequent stops and starts. The trail itself was in pretty good shape since Sunday's warmer weather had dried up a lot of the muddy stretches. The hills were the main obstacles. On the first incline, C showed some signs of fatigue, but he caught second and third, maybe even fourth, winds and did a nice job tackling a trail with more elevation than he'd ever hiked. Near the midway point, C really enjoyed seeing the waterfall, which cascaded nicely after all the recent thunderstorms. We had a good day out, and I was proud of C for managing the trail as well as he did.

Mossy Ridge Run

Friday, April 15, 2011

Springtime at Radnor

After a stressful week dealing with job matters, I finally reached a decision on Thursday—one that felt right and allowed me to breath. To celebrate, V, E, and I headed over to Radnor to walk along the lake and enjoy being outside. Clearly, spring has sprung at the park. The woods are denser with leafing trees and lush undergrowth, and a variety of blossoms have appeared in response to the warmer weather. The lake bass are on their beds, and E had fun spotting them (and trying to throw sticks at them). Other wildlife sightings included an old and sizable snapping turtle with a moss-encrusted shell, a little chipmunk darting in and out of its hole, and a couple of frogs sunning on top of an algea-covered pool.