Sunshine and warm temperatures (finally!) had us anxious to be outdoors today. I'm not sure I'd say we are suffering from cabin fever but Mother Nature has given us little in terms of weather to make us want to leave the house. Today was different.
We headed to the university to walk some of the trails in the extended woods behind the main part of the campus. Wayne took his hand-held GPS which allowed him to track our route and then laid that route over a Google Earth map to show just where we went. That's some of the campus buildings in the lower right and the power plant on Escambia River at the top. All that green area where we hiked is owned by the university and available for future expansion.
We walked some of this same path last spring when Wayne wanted to give his new knees a test run on uneven ground. He did well then, a vast improvement over his pre-surgery condition, but it was rewarding to see how much better he is now. He bounds up the trail, hardly giving a second thought to steep grades and big steps.
To be honest, I was so excited about the chance to be outdoors I didn't even think about grabbing my camera. As it turns out, the one on my phone was a capable substitute...and it was quite liberating to hike without that weight around my neck.
There's a maze of trails through that forested area so any path you take will soon cross another one, allowing you to make your hike as short or as long as you like. The trail charted on the map was a little over 4 miles. We met a few other hikers and a couple of mountain bikers but for the most part the walk was quiet and peaceful because it's all so spread out.
The trees are a mix of primarily oaks and pines which means at this time of year the ground is littered with giant pine cones. At 7"-8" tall they're quite impressive. I kept thinking they'd be great at some craft project because of their size, although I don't know exactly what. I did, however, resist the urge to pick some up and bring them home with me.
And while the landscape was predominantly green and brown, we did manage to find a little color. I'm not sure what these plants are that we found in the swampy area near the boardwalk but their little yellow pikes certainly showed up in the afternoon sun.
We didn't cover all the trails, leaving a big loop for another day, but we did make a second stop for a short hike to find a cache. That makes the day a two-fer...exercise and a cache.
It was such a treat to be out. I'm sure some of that feeling comes from the spring-like weather but life got in the way of us doing much hiking last year. We both enjoyed our return to the woods and from the looks of this tree, the woods were happy to have us back too.