Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Long Hunter State Park

on the Volunteer Loop Trail at Long Hunter State Park in Hermitage, TN
I had the day off yesterday, and since it was such a beautiful day, I wanted to check out one of many middle TN hiking trails! I called my good friend, LaToya (LaToya Tramill), and we decided to go on a little longer hike, since we had the day to play...
We chose the Loop Trail at Long Hunter State Park in Hermitage, TN.

I knew this day would come, and that my old tennis shoes would
not work...I needed HIKING shoes!
Merrell MOAB Ventilator Mid

I went to REI, which is huge outdoors store here in Nashville. I figured, if I'm going to buy outdoor shoes, this would be the best place to learn about them. As soon as I walked into the store, a child-like excitement came over me. I had no clue yet what was in store for me during this hiking/backpacking adventure I'm embarking on, and I had no clue what gear/clothing I would eventually need to get, but I wanted to buy everything! I was like a kid in a candy store!

I contained my excitement, to stay on task, and walked straight back to the shoe area. Ok...lots to choose from! Thankfully, an employee came to my rescue. I explained to him that I needed boots, but had no clue where to begin. He wanted to know what my plans were for hiking...was I going on trails, rocks, overnight, etc. Well, gosh, I wasn't exactly sure yet, but knew I was out for some adventures, so I told him I wanted something somewhat in the middle....good for almost anything - at least right now. I also liked the idea of high-tops, to give me some extra ankle support. So he brought out 2 different kinds. One was kind of stiff, which I knew was necessary, but didn't think my feet would like them for too long. I decided on the Merrells. He also informed me that I would need wool socks...so when trying to find the right size, he gave me a pair of wool socks to use. Ok, so obviously they have to fit. BUT you also don't want your toes to touch the front when going downhill. Well, wouldn't ya know it - they had a fake rock you could stand on, pointing downhill, to try out the boots! It was a perfect fit! It was probably the quickest sale this guy has ever made. I know I could have done a ton of research, looked into different stores, online, etc., but I believe in listening to those who know, from their experience, and then forming your own as you go along....So these boots would be a good place to start. The one thing these boots are not, is waterproof. But I'm not planning on braving the weather too much and hiking in the rain...at least for now....

Ok...got my boots, and my GPS to find the state park...I'm ready!! I made sure I had something to eat ahead of time, and had a bottle of water...and my camera, of course!

LaToya and I easily found the park, followed the signs to the trails, and found a parking lot. We decided to make one last pit stop in the bathroom, and check out the map of the park - to find exactly where our trail begins. They had a few trails...some were "loop" trails - where you end up back where you started, while others are a straight shot from point A to point B. There's actually even a camping area, with trails leading off of it. I'm excited to go back and camp here! It's a very pretty state park...

posted at the info center.....yikes!!!
Here is a sign that was posted at the info/map area...I wasn't too sure what to expect on the trail, so I tried not to think about these critters too much!!

The trail we wanted to go on, which I found at AllTrails.com, was the Loop Trail. It's approx. 4 miles long, and supposedly would take us about 2 hours. (Pets are allowed on this trail.) It's considered a "moderate" trail. Seeing as how my last hike was an "easy" trail, I was ready to see what one calls a "moderate" trail..and try out my new boots!

So, in order to get to our trail, we had to get back in our cars, and drive out the front of the state park, to another location down the road...

The trail started off pretty flat and easy. I was feeling pretty good - I thought, wow, this is "moderate"?? But as time went on, we did have to climb a little, on some rocks, making sure to watch our steps. It was a beautiful day, beautiful trail...some in the woods, some near the water (Percy Priest Lake), and during parts of the trail, we were on a cliff high above the water. It was a perfect day for this! I wore jeans and a t-shirt, with a light long sleeve shirt underneath, in case it got chilly in the woods. I also wore a hoodie around my waist - again, just to have in case it got cold. But I definitely didn't need to worry about getting cold. It was a warm day, plus we were working up a little sweat!

So the hike took us about 2 1/2 hours. We stopped at times at the water, or to take pictures. My 20oz. bottle of water was enough for me, at least for that hike. Part of me was scared to drink too much water - I wasn't about to squat in the woods when nature called! As for the "moderate" trail - I was happy to realize that it was not too hard for me to do. I got a little out of breath, but really nothing big at all. I'm curious to see what a "high" level trail is like!

Below are a few highlight pics from the trail, again, using my iPhone camera. At times, I just used the regular phone camera, and other times I used the Hipstamatic app and Retro Camera app. There are also a few pictures that I took with the regular phone camera, and then edited with an app, to bring out certain colors, etc. Again, the whole editing process can be so much fun!! Not only do you have a cool picture to begin with, but you can make it into something even better! I can't wait to get a "real" professional camera!

Fall colors!
Mini frog!
check out how the only part of this pic that is in focus, is LaToya...pretty cool!

And here is a slideshow of the rest of my pics from our hike...(from my Picasa Web Albums)
We had a great time, and I think I've gotten LaToya interested in hiking as well!!!
It's really a peaceful feeling to get away from the world for a little...

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