You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
24 December 2021
It's a chilly, greyish Christmas Eve day and perfect for Melvin to catch up on his sleep regime . . .
Montgomery Hall Park
. . . while we go out for a ramble at the Montgomery Hall Park. There are three interesting trails for walking and mountain biking that wind all over themselves through the woods of the park, and we recently did a mix-and-match tromp round parts of all three of them in the southern chunk of the park.
So today, for variety, we're doing the same thing round the northern part of the park, leaving our cute Volvo in the parking lot (above) just below Montgomery Hall itself, and departing from this ball field.
There's our trailhead into the woods. What fun. If we're not out in two days, call somebody.
We begin on the wildly, but intricately, loopy trail called the MHP Expressway -- the MHP just refers to the Montgomery Hall Park, and the Expressway is sarcastic.
Up into the woods, remarkably free so far of the masses of parasitical vines we encountered last week.
Well, we've seen a few of those thing before, haven't we.
It's a frisbee target basket, though how anyone could flip a frisbee into that thing would take a slow-motion video demonstration to be believable. It can be done, obviously, since these fairways have pars of 3 and 4.
We'll keep a careful eye out for Flying Discs.
Ah, the masses of parasitical vines at last. This is all kudzu, we suppose.
A charming, well-designed trail through a parasitical-vine wilderness
-- Mind your head.
Something looks ready to pounce out of the tree.
No, it's all clear.
We met four or five solitary mountain bikers bouncing past us during our hour and a quarter on the trail, and promptly stepped aside for them. Having once been an earnest mountain biker, we can easily appreciate that courtesy.
Time to loosen up the down coats
However parasitical the parasitical vines may look, they enhance the sense of a 'pleasant wilderness experience' by disguising the fact that we're looping all round within a fairly limited space.
-- Don't wander off. Just follow the arrow.
Mostly gentle uphills through this part
That's one of the fun little presents left on the trails by the park management for the mountain bikers,
A small burl on the tree -- they always remind us of horrible cancerous tumors. Which may not be so far off, because we've heard that they're caused by stresses from viral or fungal infections.
Still slightly uphill
Approaching another of nature's complicated wonders on the right
The Vine Land Sagas
Walking straight into the maw of the kudzu
Here we're leaving the yellow-marked Expressway path and leaping over onto the red Yulee Trail for a short ways, going westward.
Coming round the Yulee Trail, that's one of the two picnic pavilions on the little hill, with a car passing along the driveway, possibly full of picnickers.
But it's time to make our improvised crossover down to the blue Scout Trail and start more or less back northward towards our baseball field.
Nothing is straightforward round here.
It's like the cross-country tracks round ski resorts like Gstaad, etc., that are advertised as having '18 km of ski trails' which are coiled up in a 100m by 100m field at the edge of town. Or like a US theme park, where the jungle safari is just the other side of the movie-set from the Matterhorn climb, or the Great Flume water slide.
Beautiful sunlight, off and on, this afternoon
Helpful maintenance work on this part of the path; makes a local taxpayer proud.
Another of nature's eccentric wonders
-- How thoughtful. Fancy sitting down to rest for a few minutes?
-- Certainly not on that thing!
We've been zigzaging northward for a while but seem now to be following a wavy sort of straight line to the east.
-- What's making all that racket?
-- Oh, it's just the Amtrak 'Cardinal' heading west for Chicago.
A last little uphill
And another last little uphill
'Sixteen' -- what's that about then?
Coming out into the open at last
Our cute Volvo appears to have waited for us. Our splendid little walk has occupied only one hour and nine minutes of our valuable time.
There's one of our mountain biking fellow trail users, packing up for home.
That's the original Montgomery Hall, once the centre of a 19th century plantation, presently the administrative building of the city's Department of Parks and Recreation. Many of the other park's facilities, like a swimming pool, tennis courts, playground, et al, are just over that little hill.
This is a bit hard to follow, but the starting point today is at the northern ball park, the liaison from the yellow Expressway to the red Yulee Trail is marked by a homemade red dot, and from the Yulee to the blue Scout Trail is at another little red mark just west of the grey parking areas by the two picnic pavilions. The Amtrak railway line runs along next to the park's northern fence.
The whole thing is a fairly amazing job of planning and design.
What's next, then? Sherando Lake: picnic on a bench and a scamper round the lakeside trail