Sunday, August 17, 2008

Nature Hike at CNC

Encouraged by my walk at Crooked Run on Thursday, I planned another nature walk for Saturday after work at the Cincinnati Nature Center. Little did I know I was going on a nature HIKE, with the emphasis on hiking, rather than nature.

CNC has a program for encouraging members to walk all the trails on the property. Initially, they gave out free passports, with icons for each of the 10 major trails. When you walked a trail, you got your passport stamped by the naturalist. Once you filled up your passport, you would get a free "Take-A-Hike" T-shirt.

The program started in 2005. It has taken me a while to fill up my passport, as you can see.

If you click to enlarge, you can see
the notes I originally kept about things I found
during my early hikes.

After completing the Redwing Trail (2.6 miles, rated as "difficult") in June of 2007, I demanded TWO bootprints in my passport, it was that much effort.

Now, they sell the passports for $5 and your reward for hiking all the trails is a free Camelbak water bottle. We all know my new passion to decrease my consumption of disposable plastic water bottles by using reusable bottles, so I was psyched to complete my walks and claim my prize. My only worry - would they still honor my three year old card?

All I had left to walk was the Fernwood Trail, indicated on the map and on the trail markers by the dark green fern icon. I had walked all the other CNC trails previously, so I knew what to expect, but the Fernwood Trail is new. The property was at one time a Boy Scout camp and a Presbyterian Church camp during another incarnation. It has only recently become part of CNC property.

Click to enlarge for details

I have been on bits of this trail before, but this was my first attempt at hiking the whole thing. According to the trail map, it was only 1.6 miles, but was listed as "difficult," one of only 3 trails so indicated.

It didn't start out too bad,

but things soon went downhill.


Looking up a valley along Fernwood Trail.
The only problem with going downhill is that eventually, you have to go back up.

It was a rough hike. Some of the footing, bridges,
and steps aren't quite up the standards of the other CNC trails.

Going up!

These are the GOOD steps - you should have seen the bad ones!

CNC trail elves are on the case, replacing bridges first. One can only hope that the steps are next.

As you can see on the map, the Fernwood Trail passes behind the new property belonging to RAPTOR, Inc. I wondered if I would be able to recognize it as I passed by.

No problem - here is the back side of RAPTOR's red barn, cleverly named The Red Barn.

Just when I thought I was going to die in the wilderness,

I broke through the woods to this open meadow along a gravel drive

and these modern-day "standing stones."

This circle of stone pillars is all that remains of the garden of the original owners, the Grosbecks.

This is the old Grosbeck Lodge.

When I walked around the bend approaching the lodge, a large brownish gray bird silently flew out of the shadows and glided past the windows to disappeared in the trees on the other side. An owl, probably a Barred Owl. Sweet!

In keeping with my odd-shaped trees theme of my last walk:

I did find some wildflowers, on this walk, too. This is Jewelweed, aka Spotted Touch-me-not.
You can click any of the flower
photos for more detail.

I found this, too, but couldn't ID it till I got home and looked it up in my field guides.

Click on these photos to see
the tiny stinging "hairs."
Wood Nettle. Glad I didn't touch it!

In the field as I walked back to my car, I came across some Joe-pye Weed. In checking my references, I believe this to be Sweet Joe-pye Weed, one of several varieties of Joe-pye, all named for an American Indian medicine man. Spotted Joe-pye, the other variety common in Ohio, has a flatter flower and spots on the stem.

Did I get my water bottle?

Oh, yeah. And I earned it.

Late edit: Bonus points if you can find the hidden animals in one of the photos.


NCmountainwoman said...

Hooray!!! Despite the difficulty, it looks like great fun. And you definitely earned the reward. I loved the pictures.

BTW-is the red barn the one where Susan and her group are housed? Or is that another raptor center?

KatDoc said...

Yep, that's Susan's raptor group. They haven't moved into the new facility yet, but it's coming soon.


NCmountainwoman said...

Assuming we are broadly interpreting "animals" (as opposed to plants or minerals), I guess the Jewel Weed photo.

holly said...

I just found out this week that jewelweed is what we called 'touch-me-nots' because of the flinging, curling seed pods. I LOVE that plant! My family is probably singularly responsible for most the jewelweed growing on our camp road, because it was one of those things you introduced your kids to when they were little, so they could experience the joy of exploding pods!

holly (whose code is dqplz..which to me says D(airy) Q(ueen), please!

Holly said...

Well done. I was on the CNC trails early Saturday and also did the Fernwood & Redwing--among others--for 9.5 mile "outer loop." Yes, I am a glutton for hiking punishment. But I did see a young buck, he watched us for quite some time. Till we pulled out the camera, of course!

KatDoc said...

NCMt: (It's Carolyn, right?)

Yup, in the broad sense of "animal" (as in, not plants or rocks) the critters are on the jewelweed. I didn't even see them till I was reviewing the pictures.

Holly #1: We used to do that, too - pop the pods of the touch-me-nots and cause the seeds to spring all over. Jewelweed is also supposed to be an antidote for poison ivy, but I never tried it.

Holly #2 (With all these Hollys, it feels like Christmas!) Are you nuts? I can't beLIEVE you walked both Redwing Trail and Fernwood Trail in one day. They would have to put me in a body bag if I did a 9.5 mile hike at CNC. I'm impressed.