Wilder Woods Await

Wilder woods

Wilder woods

For the first few weeks that I had my bicycle, I was content to limit myself to riding the portion of the Rocky Run Trail that runs through the woods behind my house. It’s three miles (that’s about 5 km) there and back, and that is not a short way, especially since it had been years since I’d ridden a bike with any regularity (Roman traffic was a little too scary for me to want to brave the busy streets around my house long enough to reach the cycle paths). However, I recently discovered that the trail continues on the far side of a large road about half a mile from my house – a fact I’d missed since the trailhead has been closed for construction ever since I moved here. So, I loaded my camera with fresh batteries, pumped up my tires and headed out to see what waited for me in the wilder woods on the far side of the big road.

The little stream I'd become accustomed to is no longer narrow enough to clear in one leap over on the far side of the road

The little stream I’d become accustomed to is no longer narrow enough to clear in one leap over on the far side of the road

What I found out was that the path I knew was twice as long as I had thought: nearly eight miles, there and back. The trailheads on the two sides of the big road were both closed, so it took me a while to find an entrance where I could pick it up on the other side. However, there were enough knowledgeable dog-walkers around to point me in the right direction, and I soon found myself in a much larger and less tame wood than the one I’ve gotten to know.

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Beavers at work along the Big Rocky Run

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A crimson cloak

This must be where trees from Tim Burton movies come when they retire

This must be where trees from Tim Burton movies come when they retire

Roots reflected

Detail of roots reflected

From the trail on the near side of the road, you can always see a house or two, somewhere off through the trees. However, in this new forest, there were places where I couldn’t see anything beyond woods and water. I road further on, and soon I found myself entering a place I hadn’t known existed, the Ellanor C. Lawrence Park.

This is the face of a happy explorer who's just made a new discovery (well, new for me, anyway)

This is the face of a happy explorer who’s just made a new discovery (well, new for me, anyway)

The Ellanor C. Lawrence Park's Walney Visitor Center, located inside an 18th-century farmstead

Cabell’s Mill, built circa 1753

I thought the deer I see when I’m out riding were the extent of the local wildlife. However, a sign on the board near the park’s visitor center, located in what was once the house of the miller who operated Cabell’s Mill, told me I shouldn’t be surprised to come across beavers, coyotes, foxes or copperheads (I wouldn’t mind avoiding that last one, but believe me, if I see any of them when the weather warms up again, you will be the first to know).

Here are some of the scenes from my ride back to the main road.

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Dad watches our faithful steeds so I can document the moment when we arrive at destination

Dad watches our faithful steeds so I can document the moment when we arrive at destination

Of course, I had to share my discovery. Besides, I didn’t want Dad to feel left out after having seen the photos from the walk I took with Mom the other day. So, we had a weekend bike ride back to the farm a few days later.

This time, we saw some wildlife too, but of the tamer variety.IMG_7677

Thanks for coming along! That will be the last of the fall foliage bicycle rides, I think. The leaves are mostly brown now. I’ll keep going out – until I’d need snow tires, anyway – but I doubt there will be much to photograph. I hope you’ve enjoyed our excursions through the autumn woods, and that you’ll come back and visit soon to see what other adventures are in store.

Yes, my dad and I are goofballs

Yes, my dad and I are happy explorers – and goofballs

Until then, here’s wishing you some glorious adventures of your own.

My faithful buddy prefers to stay home and explore the backyard

My faithful buddy prefers to stay home and explore the backyard

-Jennifer

Deeper into the Woods

Ready to keep riding?

My faithful steed waits patiently while I get off to snap photos pick up the brightest, most freshly fallen leaves for pressing

My faithful steed waits patiently while I get off to snap photos pick up the brightest, most freshly fallen leaves for pressing

The deeper I go into the woods, the brighter the leaves become. They are not only gold, but crimson and burgundy, lemon and ochre.

Infinite variety

Infinite variety

In some places they are still green and in others already brown, crunching under my wheels and carpeting the gravel path so thickly that sometimes I’m not sure where the trail for people ends and where the deer path begins.

A carpet of leaves blankets the path ahead

A carpet of leaves blankets the path ahead

Someone has put up a birdhouse. I see bright red cardinals flying around it, blending in with the colors of their surroundings, for once.

Someone has put up a birdhouse. Bright red cardinals fly around it, blending in with the colors of their surroundings at this one time of year .
They wouldn’t stay still for a picture, though.

Trendsetter

Trendsetter

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Trees of all sorts compete for attention on the banks of the stream

First golden...

All dressed in shades of gold and green

Don't forget to look down

Don’t forget to look down

Don't forget to look up

Don’t forget to look up

Thanks for coming along yet again! Keep your bicycles well-oiled and ready to go, because we’re not done just yet. Until the autumn’s over, we’ve still got riding to do.

Until next time…

– Jennifer