Most of you know that I’m not supposed to be hiking due to some issues with my knees. I’m currently on week three of physical therapy, two more to go before I have my follow-up! At last week’s appointment I asked if I could go hiking over the weekend, the weather was just too beautiful to pass up! Low 60’s and sunny with a slight breeze. Weather like that does not come around very often in February. I was given the typical, “Don’t over do it, and if you have to go somewhere check outthese places…” So that’s exactly what I did. With a little bit of research I navigated the trails of Bent Creek, which is less than a ten minute drive from my house! I was pretty happy to be staying close to home, just in case my knee did give me some grief. The only downside to these trails is that this is where the mountain bikers go. I have no problem sharing a trail with bikers, however, my dog likes to chase bikes. So that was going to make for an interesting hike.
Originally I had planned on hiking Pine Tree Loop and if that went well I was going to venture onto the Explorer Loop. Unfortunately the road I took was closed off, so with a quick change of plans I parked at the Ledford Trailhead. I was admittedly a little nervous about the number of cars parked in this location, I prefer to stay away from overly crowded trail, but I was happily surprised with how few people I encountered. With a short study of the map I decided to take Deer Lake Lodge Trail, which gave me the option to continue onto Wolf Branch Trail if I was up to it. The trail itself was pretty easy, and I was out early enough that there weren’t many mountain bikers out yet. The trail was relatively flat, which was exactly what I needed. Tall trees created enough shade to protect me from the unseasonably warm sun.
I stumbled upon a little side trail and decided to take it in an attempt to get some solitude. The further I went on the trail the more I realized that I actually wasn’t on a trail at all and I knew that if I continued on that I would certainly get lost. Before turning back I sat, pressing my back against a tree, my dog curled up by my side.
I closed my eyes and just listened. There was not a soul in sight. Squirrels jumped from tree to tree, their movements sounding thunderous in the deserted section of the words. Birds chirped, their sweet songs being carried by the breeze. My eyes still closed, I emptied my mind and allowed myself to be filled with the noises of the nature that surrounded me. Peace. That’s what I felt. Total and utter contentment. The kind I can only feel while out in the woods, disconnected from life. I lifted my face towards the sun, feeling its sweet heat warm my skin. Trees swayed gently all around me, a gentle, harmonic song.
It was, by all accounts, a perfect moment. It had been so long since I’d been hiking, I wanted to savor every moment. These moments are what I live for. But it was time to get moving again. With a soft sigh and slow glance around, I reveled in my absolutely solitude and made my way back to the trail, hopeful that I was on the right track. Before long I was back on the trail. The further I went the muddier the trail got and soon the sole of my boots were caked in mud, becoming heavy, laden objects attached to my feet. I tried to clean them on a near by stick, but there was no point, before too long I was trekking through another patch of mud, my feet slipping precariously along the way.
The mud is honestly my only complaint. The sun was shining on this beautifully warm day, a gentle breeze kept me cool, and for the most part I was largely alone on the trail. The trail was gentle and easy on my shaky knees. It was well shaded and and the path was wide enough to allow me to share the trail with bikers.
Given that I’d had a slight detour on a trail that wasn’t actually a trail, I decided not to continue onto the Wolf Branch Trail. It was possible that my knees would have been fine, but I really didn’t want to push it. I’ll save that one for another day. In the meantime I’m happy that I’ve found a place where I can get outside and really enjoy hiking without the fear of messing up my knee any further. It’s not the perfect place for a hiker, but it’ll do for now. Besides all that, my dog was very, very happy to get outside. We both had a severe case of cabin fever. I’m looking forward to exploring some other trails in the Bent Creek area this weekend.
You can find a map of the Bent Creek trails here.
More pictures to come! As soon as I find my connector for my SD card…