Barfield Hike of Saturday, September 8, led by Ann Jacobs, reported by Jim Schroeder
I was the only hiker who ventured out on an overcast day to accompany Ann. Leaving the Wilderness Station a little after 8: am, and equipped with a hand clippers, Ann led the way out the main trail. We hadn’t proceeded 100 yards, when we encountered a small grass snake on the trail – one of the very few times I have ever met a snake of any kind in the park. I played the role of tail-end Charlie, clipping away moisture laden overhanging branches as we proceeded to the junction with the Rocky Path Trail. Of course I took my usual one fall per hike on a moisture coated rock right near the start, but without any damage. Following the rock strewn path it became obvious that this route could use some re-blazing, and much of it could use some cut back to widen out the tread. Climbing the Marshall Knob onto the main trail and back down to the Valley View trail, and we were soon on our way to the overlook, where we took a few minutes for a snack break. Leaving the overlook, the skies turned misty, but we were still pretty well shielded by the canopy of trees. Again intersecting the main trail we soon reached the river, which was flowing at a good rate from the recent rains. We both remarked that it was a pleasant change for just a few short weeks ago, when the stream bed was bone dry. Just before reaching the descent to cross the wetlands to the edge of the stream, the highlight of the trek occurred. Ann spotted a big owl perched in a tree overlooking the trail. The big bird watched us closely as Ann tried her skill as a photographer, and we slowly made our way past the perch of this watchful species of the woods. Contrary to some past reports, this winged creature did not attempt to frighten the hikers by any swoop down venture! As we made our way up onto the paved path for the return to the Wilderness Station, the misty skies turned into a light drizzling rain so that by the time hike ended, I was clad with a pretty drenched shirt – no I didn’t take any rain gear – my wife had informed me the rain was over before I left home. And with the weather as warm as it was, there was no chilling discomfort from the rain. So ended a really nice hike and it gave us both a chance to know each other a little better. It is just too bad others didn’t take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy the truly delightful environment of Barfield Park.