Have you heard of www.meetup.com? It's a social website dedicated to hobbies and activities and interests and brings people together who share the same interests. I found a hiking group (among dozens of other interesting-looking groups) and went on my first hike with them last night. The hiking meetup is a spinoff of a local well-established trail hiking group called Thames Valley Trail Association. The organizers of the meetups are trained hiking leaders and 2 go on each hike - one takes the lead and the other pull up the rear so no one gets off on the wrong path and gets lost! We found a little hut made of branches but I don't think it would provide much shelter from either the rain or the coyotes.
The upside of hiking with a group is being able to go onto new trails without the fear of disappearing into the woods forever. (I reminded Kazi of where my will is just before I left anyways 'cause I'm such a cautious soul!) I've never hiked in Warbler Woods before and it was a beautiful spot. I walked with 3 other first time hikers (where the trail was wide enough) and I really enjoyed meeting and talking with some new to me friends!
The down side of walking with a group is I can't just stop and take a photo whenever I want to so when the group did stop from time to time for instructions or have a water break I would snap whatever was around, and quickly. Like these orange mushrooms! There was a lot of laughter and everyone was friendly. I was a little worried as there were a lot of "older" women and I thought the pace might be too slow but it was pretty good. No complaints. My hiking boots are very comfortable and my special moisture wicking socks spectacular! I tried out my hiking poles last night too and find I prefer to walk with only only rather than the pair. That way I can carry my water bottle for quick and easy access and snap a photo when the opportunity arises.
We hiked for about 90 minutes and I plan to go back again on my own. Following the yellow blazes will keep me on the main trail and the area isn't really so large that if I got lost I'd be lost for long. Once in a while you could hear traffice or spot a house way off through the trees. But the illusion of being out in the wilderness is fairly authentic.
Between the trail association and the meetups there are in excess of 300 hikes a year!! I'm just going to be so svelte in about 20 years!!
Well I'm off to pick up my pizza :) Tonight I am treating myself to a movie (rented) and pizza and beer. Working off the calories entitles me to eat whatever I want or so I tell myself!!