Monday, August 06, 2012

My second hike at Neale Woods this morning wasn’t really morning, for one thing. I dilly-dallied around home so much that I don’t think I got there until - well, I got there then:

(Click on the pictures to see a bigger version.)

…And I think I was looking at this sundial upside down but it doesn’t matter because I don’t know what time it was. We’ll come back to it; I decided I’ll take a picture of it at the beginning and at the end of every hike. Some days will be overcast and I won’t.

Anyway, It was nice and sunny, with a light breeze. Weatherspark tells me it was about 86 degrees around the time I got there, and about 92 when I left. Warmer than I’d like, actually.

I spoke with a couple of consultant guys at the start, who were there scoping the visitor’s center out preparatory to submitting a plan to FFNA for replacing the building. Nice guys. I’ll be interested in what FFNA finally does with the place. I’m kind of surprised they’re considering replacing the old Dr. Neale A-frame; I’d have thought the old-timers on the Board might object on the grounds it’s holy, or something, but apparently not. Nice to know they have the means to do such a project, though.

Their trail maps are worthless for estimating how long your hike is, I have figured that out already. I’m guessing I hiked about 2 miles, which is a mighty long hike for me, and oh momma there are some hills in there. Ye gods.

The stairs of Cirith Ungol.

I did surprisingly well, for how out of shape and overweight I am. I didn’t start to suffer until maybe 3/4ths of the way through. Saw some neat stuff:

Two deer - one is on the right and all you can really see is deer-color beyond the thick dark trunk.

I’ll have to try to find out who this belonged to. It's about 8 inches long, and I don't think you can see the beautiful iridescence up toward the tip of the feather. I first saw just this one feather on a nettle bush. Later on I saw several in one place and it didn’t look like a happy ending to this bird’s story…

On my hike today I developed Terry’s Rule of Hiking Photography: No matter what cool things you see on the first 3/4th of your hike, they are NOTHING compared to the coolness of what you will see on the last 1/4th when you are exhausted, shaking, overheated, needing a bathroom NOW, and your camera battery is almost dead. I don't want to talk about it.

The last 1/4th of mine was Frodo’s climb up Mount Doom. I swear, at one point I was actually stumbling along swatting at imaginary gnats and mumbling about “the Eye…”  But at last, I saw this:

Downtown Omaha from Neale Woods

And I knew my long ordeal was almost over. I made it to the sundial, where it was this time (When I got to my car a few minutes later the clock said 2 p.m. Exactly):

It looks like only maybe an hour had passed, but I'm sure that was just Sauron messin' with me. And I swallowed the last mouthful of water in Sam’s my canteen BPA-free sippy flask, cracked open my store of lembas nuts and raisins, and headed the car towards home.

Neale Woods had kicked my ass again, but I have a secret those old hills don’t know: I’m getting stronger.

No comments: