Monday, September 6, 2010

Big Haynes Creek Hiking_Labor Day 2010

Keep your sense of proportion by regularly, preferably daily,
visiting the natural world. - Catlin Matthews

Labor Day, 2010. This morning started of pretty cool, especially with the top down at 9AM. Temps in the low 60’s, clear skies with the beautiful morning glow sidelighting everything it touched. My wife had something to do for a few hours, so I dropped her off and went looking for a photo op or two, with a little walking mixed in.

First stop was Costley Mill; I have wanted to try to photograph the site for a while. The closed gate and sign that read “No trespassing, violators will be prosecuted” enticed me to look elsewhere.

With no time for driving around, I decided on the Big Haynes Creek Nature Preserve in Conyers, Ga. I have been there before, and I see something different every time it seems. Canoeing is allowed at the site, but no motorized boats or inflatable rafts, and no fishing, swimming, or wading. Probably due to the close proximity to the water treatment facility.

I have walked the trails here several times, and I find a new path on every trip. Today I chose the line that ran along the lake, staying within water’s sight most of the way.

This time the trails, although well traveled, were tight with greenery in places, especially when I got off the beaten path looking for photo ops. Might be worth considering if you go there this time of year in shorts or a skirt. Poison Ivy alert…….

My first stop, as usual, was the two docks overlooking the lake, just beyond the parking area.

The view here is always pretty, whether blue skies like today or drenched in fog for a surreal gothic scene, or shrouded in white during a snowstorm. I have seen them all. Today I saw lots of dragonflies
and some butterflies,

a couple of frogs leaping in and out of the water, and a few large birds, similar to a pelican. Lots of noise; nature in its pristine form. I saw a few other visitors; two couples that spoke, and a group of horseback riders on the trail I walked through the wooded area.

Leaving the lake and heading towards the myriad of trails, I noticed the variety of traffic that enjoys the trails. Shoe prints, dog tracks, and horseshoe marks dotted the trail, especially in the few muddy areas I came across (usually at a crossover of a small stream.) Interesting things to photograph were everywhere, and I have included some of the images I took today.

The trails are clearly marked,

although I suppose one could get turned around on the trails. I like getting off the trails a little ways, but I did fine. I saw one mountain bike rider on today’s hike, but I have seen more in the past.
Today I stayed along side the lake, but on my last visit, with my daughter Marissa, we walked a different trail and came to a section that was granite. It reminded me of a small Stone Mountain. This was the location of the ’96 olympic summer games mountain biking competition. We had to watch our steps and move to the side a couple of times; the bikers were flying down the steep, unforgiving terrain.
Elevation changes reminded me of the hills of Tennessee. You can pick strenuous or flat, it’s your choice. Just watch for the bikes and horses.
Here’s a link for more info.

A new dock, a part of the never ending expansion and improvements, stood incomplete and blocked off. More reason to believe I’ll keep finding something new and inspiring every time I visit.

A few photos and comments from my last couple of visits, one during the January 2010 snowstorm and the March visit with my daughter-

The scene during the snow was surreal. First, I have never seen snowflakes that thick in Georgia.

As I stood at the canoe launch with my son Robbie, the leather hat I wore, primarily to protect my camera, started collecting snow.

This is probably laughable to those of you that live further north, but it’s unusual in Georgia, where schools and businesses shut down at the first rumor of a snowflake. I was amazed at the sight, but we wisely headed back home soon after arriving, because snow plows are non existent here, and the road became impassible before long.
When Marissa and I visited, we came across what appears to be the remnants of a horse show location, or something related to horses. This was close to Costley Mill Road. My apologies if we ventured off the nature preserve; trail markings were close by, so I don’t think we did.

I received a call from my wife saying she was ready to be picked up, and I told her I was a twenty minute walk from the car.

Really, I was a little optimistic in this, especially since photos kept jumping out at me on the walk back.
I finally slung the camera over my shoulder and watched the trail, mindful of the time. When I arrived near the parking area, my wife and her sister were on the trail, talking to someone they had just met, walking her dog.

The hot Atlanta temps had begun to set in, but despite the tired legs and sweat, it was quite enjoyable. I look forward to the next visit, maybe in the Fall after the leaves have begun changing.

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