Saturday, June 02, 2007

National Trails Day

I decided that today was a great day for a hike and then I found out that the first Saturday every June is National Trails Day. I wanted to go for a hike for a several reasons:
1. I have been away from my camera for a month now. It was time to drag it out again.
2. I like how I feel when I manage a hike. Stronger, better, more like me.
3. I needed to do something different today.

While I was scouring Arkansas for the best shot ever, I bought a couple of hiking books by Tim Ernst, Arkansas' foremost nature photographer (or something like that). I started with the Arkansas Dayhikes for Kids & Families, actually by his wife and daughter and compared with his book. I like the kids book because...well, I'm not that great a hiker. This book has a rating's not stars. It's hot dogs. I haven't read enough to know why. I just know I'm kinda a one-hot dog kind of girl.

I decided to go to Lake Catherine. It's only 30 miles or so from my house, and I've lived less than an hour away my whole life, but I've never been there. So, today I went on the Falls Branch 1.5 hot dogs. But then...I did the entire trail instead of the part outlined in the book. The park service map said it was 2 miles, instead of the 1.4 she's outlined, so I think that boosts my hot dog level to at least 2 full hot dogs and maybe higher because the part I added changes elevation. Really changes elevation. Up, up, switchback, up. And then down, thank goodness. And there were benches...really, thank goodness. The first bench was a true blessing.

When I actually made it to the famed waterfall, it was crawling with people. They went the right way. I did get to talk to some nice people from Texas. They couldn't believe I'd never been to Lake Catherine either. The recommended I also do the Dam Mountain Trail. I managed not to snort in disbelief. I'm lucky not to have sprained, scraped, or broken anything on this one...rated easy to moderate by the park service people. (Note to self: stick with easy, no moderate next time. Note to park service: more benches, please. And some visible distance markers so I know how much farther I'm climbing. Thank you.)

Here's why it was a good responsibility, no time table, no comments about things I need to change, no extreme anger or sadness, plenty of time to think about good times, and I did it even when I wasn't sure I could.

There are 89 trails in the kids book. Wonder how many are 2 hot dogs or less?

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