Being Bryson

It’s a pictureriffic post today!  Well, definitely in the sense of quantity, but in truth it is a rather hodgepodge collection if I do say so myself.  The topic today happens to be something that I have in common with Bill Bryson – we both like a good Walk in the Woods (link here).  One glaring difference is he had the opportunity to do his walking on the Appalachian Trail were I tend to stay a little closer to home.  Some day I’d like to actually do that legendary trail but there are a number of items ahead of it on the Life List as of now.  Just a quick note on Bill Bryson – he is one of my favorite writers up there with AJ Jacobs.  Something about his dry wit that makes me crack up every time I read or listen to one of his offerings.  He has a very British feel from spending a significant amount of time in that region, but his perspectives of a Midwestern life are dead on.  I recommend starting out with “A Short History of Nearly Everything” (link here) to get a feel for his style and maybe even learn a thing a two along the way.

Back on topic, one of my favorite past times is hiking waterways.  Hiking is a great way to get out and experience the best the outdoors has to offer.  No cars to stress over, forces you to unplug from the electronic media push industry and helps you forget that this administration has (as we’ve come to expect) abused the Patriot Act.  Just you, a good pair of boots, a pair of leather gloves, protective eye wear, a hat, a camera and depending on the time of year maybe some bug repellent.  Now there is one other convenience I do recommend for two reasons – a smart phone.  Obviously, the ability to call in help in an emergency is the major benefit, but the GPS capability is pretty cool for tracking your route and distance.  Case in point, here is the results of my hike back in April.

It is difficult to tell at that zoom level, but that trail directly follows a stream which is a feeder for the Kickapoo Creek.  This is the same stream that runs through my property which I had already mapped on a previous outing.  On this particular hike I wanted to continue it through Jubilee Park.  So, why the fascination with streams and rivers?  It’s quite simple really – first, it is virtually impossible to get lost and secondly, that is where the wildlife hangs out.  My rule is to choose a side of the stream and walk along that side as close as possible to the bank following every switchback and fork that keeps you on the same side of the water.  If you get lost.. simply retrace the stream and it will lead you back to the start as opposed to trying to navigate in open woods which can be a nightmare (trust me, been there).  It also makes it very easy for rescue teams to find your body should something go awry (don’t ever use this as the argument, your significant others tend to get a little nervous).  Now, this rule does need to be broken every once in awhile – such as when a fork eventually takes you way out of the way or when you get caught in between another merging stream.  That is what happened to me at mile 2 above.  Conforming to the rule, the hike took me back on a merging stream until eventually there was a horse crossing I used to get back on the right side of the main stream (if I would have stayed on it it would have taken me back out of the park).

Granted the hike will do your body good, but it’s the sights and sounds that give me the greatest enjoyment.  All the running allows me the freedom to trudge through the thickets, briars and weed for as long as I want allowing me to  explore wide sections of the woods at a time.  You never know what you will find on a given trek no matter how many times you’ve already covered that area in the past.  In a macabre sense you just never know what might have met their demise along the bank.

Truthfully, this is a pretty common scene on my walks.  For one thing it is apparent deer head to the water when something is wrong.  Not sure of the reason, but multiple hunters have informed me that deer they’ve shot tend to run directly toward water.  Most of the deer carcasses I encounter are not felled by human hands and appear to the handy work of coyotes or possibly simply old age.  Now for a little secret.  The spine of deer tend to solidify when they die.  Why mention this?  ummm it happens to play into a little quirk – I like to arrange the bones as a little surprise to fellow hikers.  Specifically, I either place the skulls in the “V”‘s of trees or better yet….

… stand them up along the banks.  This particular valley near the stream was FILLED with deer bones and a few full skeletons.  The full ones were positioned in various arrangements around the value like they’re still alive.  Wish I could videotape anyone who comes upon them hehehe.   Don’t worry, the rest of the shots are from the land of the living.  Hit the jump to check out all the birds found along the hike

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