Good morning and Happy Wednesday! This last weekend was such a perfect weekend that it was hard to believe it was November. The Sun was shining and it held steady in the low 70s, temperature-wise, both days. Many trees still have their Fall-colored leaves, and the ground is littered with fallen ones. If it weren't for the many barren trees, I could have sworn it were early October. Indeed, it does feel as though the seasons are all a month behind. Summer came late, Fall came late, and now Winter seems to be coming late. I'm okay with that, as I'm definitely more of a fan of Fall than of Winter.
I will admit that I haven't gotten out and done any serious hiking in quite some time. Summer is horrible for hiking as it's hot, but mostly because you can't hike without being swarmed by mosquitoes. I had every intention of hiking a lot in Fall, but so far that hasn't really happened. October was a busy month, and I just didn't get out like I had wanted. In fact, I've been a bit lazy outside of that, and I can feel it.
This month isn't so busy for me so, this last weekend, I was ready to do some serious hiking. With the glorious weather we had, it wasn't a problem. We--my husband, Nature Girl, and myself--did five mile hikes both days in two different places. Today, then, is Saturday's hike, or Part One. Look for Part Two on Friday!
My second-favorite place to hike in my area is Hitchcock Nature Center in Crescent, Iowa. Just across the border from Omaha, and straddling Council Bluffs, this park sits resplendently amongst the Iowa Mountains. (For those of you unfamiliar with them, it's my loving term for the Loess Hills.)
We started off on Badger Ridge Trail, which affords a stunning view of the land from the peaks of the Hills.
The number of trees with yellow leaves were more than any other tree with colored leaves in the park. As we walked, several chunks of trails had these leaves freshly fallen (and falling as we hiked), making me think of the movie "The Wizard of Oz". Follow the Yellow Brick Road!
A yellow-leaf tree peeks out from amongst the barren trees of pre-Winter. One thing I like about hiking when the trees are bare, is that it gives me a much further view of my surroundings. This means I can see so much more than I can see when everything is overgrown. I also don't have to deal with the person-high weeds and grasses that abound in the warmer months.
There's always fallen trees in the forest. We saw this one as we walked along the Wildwoods trail that leads through the forest and connects the major hilly parts of the Center.
A shot down Wildwoods trail as it closes in on it's end, turning into another trail.
A view down the Heritage Trail. This short section of trail connects the easy Wildwoods trail with the hard The Chute trail.
The tall grasses looked alive and glowing under the brilliant sunlight as we began our ascent up The Chute.
A shot of one yellow-leaved tree amongst the pretty clouds. No turning back as we're now in the first part of The Chute.
After surviving one of the harder trails in the park, we ended our hike at the actual Nature Center. You've seen the photos I've taken from here before as I stood on the large deck that surrounds the center. From this vantage point are breathtaking views over the park's landscape.
A view from the deck of the Center of Fox Ridge Run. One of my favorite trails in the Park, it meanders along the ridges as an easy trail. A few years back, they expanded the length of the trail, making my heart happy.
The Center has a lookout tower that you can climb and really get a view. I have vertigo though, and have never made it all the way to the top.
One last look as we made our way to our car. The sun shines down over the landscape gorgeously. Ahh, what a perfect hike this was! We got five miles in of easy, medium, and hard trails, giving us a nice workout, and giving me an energy I haven't had in quite some time. As you know, Nature gives me a boost, it resets my batteries, and washes away my worries and stress (as well as being a great form of exercise). This hike was a capstone to a great day, even if it did kick my butt (in a good way).
Afterwards, we stopped in Crescent at the Loess Hills Winery--as is my tradition--where we sipped some samples, and grabbed a bottle of wine. It's a small winery with a small, but delicious, selection of wine. The gentleman working there is gracious and humorous, and they have a frequent buyers card. M next bottle is free!
It's Wednesday, which means we're halfway through the week, and one day closer to another gorgeous hike. Until then, enjoy your day, and look for Part Two on Friday.