This weekend's hike was like being in bizarro land. We went to the Sam Houston National Forest and hiked a small section of the LST. The weather was cold and overcast, which lent an unmistakable air of mystery to the pine forest surroundings. It's quiet beauty unfolded the deeper in we walked, and left an undeniable impression on me. I'm privileged to have another amazing outdoor experience that I can write about and reflect upon.
I took a whole memory card of pictures that I'll have the pleasure of sifting through later on. This trip report will hopefully mark the first of many involving the LST. We were only on it for five miles, but the small section of wilderness we went through was mesmerizing. There was a marked difference between it and the Sand Branch Trail, which we also hiked.
The first day we covered six miles before setting up camp. The trail guide we brought along helped us navigate and proved to be a useful bit of information to have. Thomas brought quads along and we used two of them to navigate our hike along with the maps I downloaded off the internet. My GPS wasn't as useful as it could have been but that was because of heavy tree cover and not getting reliable signals.
Our camp site was a little unkempt because of someone using it and not carrying their trash out, which was a bit disheartening, but the place served it's purpose well enough and I was happy to stop. My backpack wasn't well balanced because I didn't pack it properly and I ended up with some noticeable discomfort. I also pulled my left calf muscle a slight bit from leaping over small streams with a 40lb load on my back.
After Thomas and I settled into camp we ate and talked about how the place felt and we both agreed it was really weird. There were occasional bird calls and the far off knocking of a woodpecker. The atmospheric hues went from grayish to lavender as the sun was going down and it all seemed more surreal to me than I can describe. The quiet was peaceful but definitely of a quality bordering on creepy.
Soon it was dark and cold. I was happy to retreat to my bag and read a little from Backpacker magazine out loud to Thomas. It wasn't long before he was sleeping and I turned my attention to my ipod to let waves of soulful music carry me into sleep. I slumbered in absolute comfort last night. The forest floor was loamy and spongy and the air smelled nice.
Getting up this morning felt like ages ago as I write this. I feel an urgency in writing it all down before I lose the finer details, although I'm sure more will come to me once I look at all the pictures. On a side note, wonderful smells of lasagna are wafting up to the second floor of my loft because my husband is cooking dinner for me. Somehow he always seems to know what I need and when. There were also pretty flowers and a bottle of wine with my name on it :). I think I will pour a glass of wine, take a hot soak, and come back to write the rest of this before I go to bed tonight...
Let's see...where was I...ah yes.
This morning Thomas presented me with a choice of either completing an 11 mile hike, or sticking with the six mile loop we previously discussed. I was very tempted to undertake the 11 miler, but weenied out and opted for the six miler instead. At the time it seemed sensible, but in hindsight I could have easily gone the 11 miles and in some respects wish I had. But of course I wouldn't be sipping wine right now and I am happy to be relaxing, so I guess things have a way of working out.
We hopped over many fallen trees today that littered our path and jumped over stream after stream, some of which were a bit tricky to get across. Amazingly my feet stayed dry . This hike was a slog in some areas, meaning wet and gushy. It felt utterly swamp like and I lost my footing a couple of times from slipping in the mud. However, I'm proud to say I never went down in the stuff. Thank goodness...that would have been quite messy and uncomfortable. Winter is the time to walk in this forest, because in the summer time the mosquitoes will eat any human brave enough to enter, ALIVE.
This trip had it's own surreal charm of which I'll think back on with fond recollection and I look forward to future adventure in the wilds of the Sam Houston National Forest. I'm a lucky girl to be able to experience all that I do. Special thanks goes to Thomas for being such an awesome hiking partner and making these trips possible.
First Pond where we stopped for lunch
Our packs at first pond
My tent looks huge compared to Thomas's
Pine Cones were everywhere
Stream with tannin laden water. When I stepped onto the sand it was like quicksand!
Layers upon Layers of Fungus on a tree trunk
Looking up into eerie silence
Fungus taking over