Last week I wrote about one of the organized hikes to Beck’s Rocks. On Saturday, Clear Creek Metro Park conducted another one. I debated with myself whether to go or not, thinking it might just be a boring repeat.
But there is always something new to see, and to photograph.
The hike last week was a “Metro 5-0″ hike, for the over-50 crowd. That drew about 20 people. Because it was more intimate, that gave the park naturalist the opportunity to devote more time and attention to pointing out, well, nature.
On Saturday, there were closer to 60 people. Here’s the crowd stopped partway up the climb up a ridge.
One reason for the stop was just to let everybody catch up so that we all stay together. While stopped, we also got a chance to look at a sourwood tree.
If you look closely at the tips you see the see the woody seeds that formed where the raceme of flowers were. I’d never known how to identify sourwoods before—all I knew was that there was a trail in the area called the Sourwood Trail. You learn something new on all of these organized hikes.
Sixty people are a lot of people to have on a hike. After the top of the ridge we headed downhill along a pipeline. Being strung out really emphasized how many of us there were.
Of course, with that many people, there were a fair number who were interested and curious about my barefoot hiking. Obviously, I don’t go out of my way to push that in anybody’s face, or to proselytize, but if people ask me about it, I’ll tell them. It’s also always nice just to be “out there”, so that people can see that barefoot hiking really isn’t that difficult.
I’ve mentioned this before, but this time, just as has happened so many other times, I had quite a few people note to me how they used to go barefoot as kids and could run around without any trouble. But, if they tried it now, it would hurt, hurt, hurt.
The thing, of course, is that just a bit of training on the right surfaces could bring back a fair bit of that barefoot capability. Maybe I even encouraged a few of them to give it a try.
Heading down the pipeline right-of-way we eventually made it to Clear Creek itself.
Again, you can see how we are all strung out, though we stopped just beyond this point to get all collected again, and to hear a bit about the history, and natural history, of the area. In fact, right there was an old bridge over Clear Creek that Mr. Beck had used to visit his property.
It was pretty dark down there. That’s because the sun was low in the sky (only about 32° above the horizon) and Beck’s Rocks were to the south. What little light we were getting had a lot of trees to get through, even if they were leafless.
From there, it was a climb back up to Beck’s Rocks. Again, these are slump rocks made of Blackhand Sandstone. They form a very interesting and diverse habitat for all sorts of plants and creatures.
Here’s some liverwort nestling in a small recess.
And sitting at the base of a tree was this gorgeous mushroom, some kind of polypore.
Maybe Red-banded Polypore?
I couldn’t resist a bit of goofing off, and a posed, pretend chimney climb.
That’s just far enough up to look useful without actually demonstrating my incompetence. But it does show how bare feet are quite useful in that situation.
We left Beck’s Rocks by heading back down again before heading up. Most of the other folks were ahead of me by now (because I had stayed behind to point out the blooming witch hazel), so I managed to get this shot of the string of people heading downhill.
And finally, a friend took another shot of me up on my photography perch.
As always, a great hike, and a great way to spend a wonderful 70° fall day.