Monday, May 16, 2011

Buford Hatchery and Orr's Ferry

Last Monday morning, I found out why the last few laps at Yargo had hurt so badly. Illness. Wretched, wretched illness. It must have been lurking in my sinuses all Saturday, and no amount of taking it easy last Sunday could stop it. By Monday morning, I was sick with a fever. It was intense, but short-lived and after a day of near-coma level sleep, I was back at work, not feeling well, but definitely feeling better. Little did I know that there was a secondary infection in there too, hanging out, waiting patiently for the right time to strike. Apparently that was Thursday night, and I spent most of Friday and Saturday laid up like I had last Monday. Today, again, I was feeling better, though not yet well. I've got a backlog and a half of yet-unadventured adventures: exploring the rest of Pigeon Mountain, Tour de Macon, Jacks Knob ridiculoop, and a dozen others, not to mention the 4 different group rides people had posted on Facebook yesterday. They were all calling, but every one of them had to wait. This morning, I felt like I had the energy, but deep down I knew that I didn't actually have it. I needed to take it easy, and it ended up being one of those days.

After lunch, the girls and I went to the pond. Sophie was kind of excited because for the past few weeks there have been a pair of geese there, raising their young and we've been watching them grow up. "Do you think the gooselings will be there again? Geeselings? What do you call them?"

Whatever you call them, they were there.

 Sophie and the Gooselings

The little ones have started to eat grass.

Isabel was surprisingly patient today. She and I tried to catch some catfish the way I did last week. Sophie wasn't interested in any of that. There were tons of kids there catching gazillions of little fish and that looked a lot more fun to her. In the end, it didn't matter though, we all struck out. We got nibbles and bumps all day but never hooked a thing. Literally everyone else was hauling them in like they were in the business or something. We caught nothing. At all. Zero. It was amazing.

That's how it is though.

One funny thing... Isabel randomly asked me about the song Baby Got Back from Sir Mix A Lot. Apparently one of her friends had been singing it and dancing all crazy at school and she thought it was hilarious. I was telling her some of the lyrics and she couldn't stop laughing and we couldn't stop singing it. I also told her about how at the time, super-skinny had become popular again, and girls were getting self conscious, but Mix a Lot came out like "No, you see, I like Big Butts and you other brothers can't deny that you also like Big Butts" and unexpectedly, the ridiculous popularity of the song went a long way toward promoting healthy self-images. You never know where it's going to come from.

We had failed at fishing, but the next thing on our agenda would be virtually impossible to fail at unless someone got hurt. We packed up and headed over to Settles Bridge Park. I wanted to see if there was a way to connect the Settles Bridge and Orr's Ferry NRA units and maybe even connect up to the southern end of the Bowman's Island unit. The maps published by the parks service are inconclusive. Connections or not, we'd still get a good, relatively flat walk in and maybe even see some animals.

We parked at Settles Bridge Park rather than at the Settles Bridge lot. Screw paying $3, we'll walk the extra mile and a half.

It turned out that there was a trail crossing the creek at the northern end of the Settles Bridge unit, connecting up with Orr's Ferry. Strange that we hadn't seen it last time. I guess we just weren't looking.

As it turns out, there are trails and trails up that way. It was sort of the same layout as the other units: one trail right along the river, another one along the drainage line, some connectors between them and some trails leading to the neighborhoods along the eastern border. It wasn't too hard to explore the entire unit.

Daisies were the flower of the day; Sophie's favorite flower. I hope these are daisies. They look like daisies.


They were everywhere. Millions of daisies made one really happy girl.

We ended up down by the river for a while, and it was high and raging.


They'd released water from the dam. We'd heard the sirens earlier when we were fishing.

Strangely, we only found one of what you might call a trailhead, tucked in, semi-anonymously down at the end of a neighborhood road.

 Orrs Ferry Neighborhood Trailhead

There was no parking or kiosk or anything.

There were a bunch of eggs nearby though.


Were they goose eggs? Most of them were smashed. Maybe some kids were just throwing eggs at each other.

We did find some official signage, but not at the trailhead. The signs were way back up in the woods.

 Orrs Ferry Kiosk 1

 Orrs Ferry Kiosk 2


The signs mentioned that biking was allowed on designated trails and to yield to hikers - standard rules. I wonder what they mean by designated trails. The only thing I've ever seen out there that even vaguely looks like a trail desginator is a little, unmarked metal post way down by Settles Bridge itself. I wonder if the sign is just generic or if some of the trails in those units are actually open to bikes. I'll have to email somebody.

A little bit north of one of the signs, somebody had scrawled this design into a tree.


I wondered if that was some sort of official designation. I assumed it meant "two-way traffic" and I looked for more, but that was it. Maybe somebody had just gotten artistic.

We pushed north as far as we could. We could even hear traffic on Hwy 20. We were frustratingly close, but there was no getting to it. At the end of the trail there was a very large sign, very clearly spelling out that the trail beyond was on private property and we shouldn't hunt, fish or trespass there. We even tried heading over to the river and see if there was a fence or some bearing trees or something. The river itself is public land, maybe 10 feet up the bank on either side is too. There was no trail there though and the brush was extremely dense. I'd already picked two ticks off of my legs earlier and I figured if we started pushing through it, the exsanguination would be immediate and devastating.

Mission somewhat accomplished, we headed back with a purpose. Iz was kind of pushing the pace. She wasn't feeling great and wanted to get home. I think she's just now catching the same cold that I'm finally getting over.

Somewhere during our march I grabbed this photo. Actually, now that I look at it, with the river on the left, I must have taken it on the way out rather than back. I think I've taken dozens of photos just like this:

 On the Move

It occurred to me while taking it today. This image is the distilled essence of hiking with the girls. If I manage to grow old and recollect back, that's what I'll see in my head first. There's already a satisfyingly monumental flood of memories dammed up behind that image. I can only imagine what it'll be like if we can keep it up.

When we were about a mile out, Sophie was officially spent and really had to dig deep. Honestly, I was in about the same shape. We hadn't brought enough food with us. She joked about how tired she was, but she didn't actually complain. That's new for her. In the past, at that point, she's given up and had to be talked into getting out. Not today. She sized it up, held it together and put in the effort that it took. It was a big step. A huge step.

For our post adventure meal, we hit a barbeque joint in town called 'Cue. It was OK. I didn't really love any of their sauces, but the calories felt really, really good, to all of us.

I hope the exercise helped. It definitely helped my morale. Hopefully next weekend I can get back to knocking more of those real adventures off my list.

No comments:

Post a Comment