Friday, November 16, 2018

Berry College

A few weekends back it had been raining for days and everything was still wet. If I wanted to get in anything fun outdoors, it would have to be either forest roads or hiking. Hiking seemed like more fun at the time, and there's this big horse trail network at Berry College that I still hadn't seen much of.

It was the first thing that came to mind, I was feeling impulsive, so that's what I went and did.

I parked at the Old Mill and headed west on the road toward the spot that me and Billy had noticed was part of the trail last time we were up there. On the way I ran like 10 other hikers, and about half of them had cute little dogs with them. There's a funny 5-way intersection near the trail and while I stood there studying my map, a lady walked by (with a dog, of course) and confirmed that she'd come from the lake. Cool, I was apparently right on track.

I picked up the trail near a creek, but I had a hard time following it. There were various side trails that looked like they got a lot more use than the main trail, and I kept going for a while, missing a turn, and ending up on some side trail that would eventually peter out.

It pretty much looked like this:

Trail, I Guess

Pretty much everywhere.

The "right way" was blazed by some weird orange blazes that looked like an I with a small o superimposed on top of it.

Weird Blaze

But the were intermittent enough, that I'd walk a while, not see one, start to worry that I was off track again, and then finally run into one again.

After a while, the trail turned into a more predictable sidehill that pretty much just paralleled the road below, and I stopped getting lost. There were a dozen or more of what looked like old overgrown connectors heading down towards the road, and the woods below the trail looked a lot more raggedy than the woods above it. It made me wonder if the trail had been a firebreak at some point, or maybe the upper border of a clearcut.

After a while, I ran into some "organized rocks" which turned out to be the ruins of some old structure. There were several piles of old clumps of brick or rock, mortared together, just sitting there, above the trail.

Ruins 1 Ruins 2 Ruins 3 Ruins 4

I couldn't tell what it was for sure, but the bricks struck me as old footings, and the rocks as part of an old chimney.

A ways further up this pipe came up out of the ground, right in the middle of the trail, with water steadily bubbling out of it.

Bubbling Pipe

For horses? I wondered. I'd never seen anything like it before though.

From there on, the trail was really nice and looked like it got a lot more traffic.

Nice Trai

It looked like people generally bypassed the section I'd been on earlier, favoring the road below.

The trail led up along a creek with little shoals at semi-regular intervals.

Small Shoal

There was a big chunk of pipe up there too.

Old Pipe

I'd noticed culverts earlier made out of similar-looking pipe, but it wasn't clear whether that one had been used in a culvert or not. Above the Old Mill, pipes used to take water off of the creek to feed the mill. They used to be buried, but some of them eventually got exposed. It occurred to me that this creek might have had a similar pipeline at some point, and that pipe might have once been a section of it. Somebody out there knows. Maybe.

As I approached Redmond Gap I started getting a little concerned about the time. There's a gate that they close at 6PM and if you're not out, you get locked in. There was a game at 8 that I didn't want to miss, and besides, who wants to get locked in anywhere?

I ended up taking the road back down though, and jogging most of it, so I made good time. I did get distracted by a ringneck just lying there in the road.

Ringneck on Mountain Goat

...but only for a minute or so. It was about 5:40 when I got to the car. Plenty of time to get out.

Or so I thought.

Just as I was about to start changing, a semi-distressed guy got my attention, hoping I had some jumper cables. I did. He needed them. We tried to get his car to start for the next 10 minutes, but it wasn't the battery. I even got my Dad on the phone to help figure it out. It looked like the fob might be going bad. You could open the doors with it, but the car didn't like something about it. If you'd power everything off, lock and unlock the doors, then try again, it would do its self test, but then the security light would just blink and blink. Attempts to start didn't do much. I could hear a relay switch, but that was it. Apparently if a Ford gets in that state, the security code has to be cleared somehow, and it's apparently a dealer secret how.

Luckily, they lived nearby, or at least one of their parents did. They were also able to call the campus police and delay locking the gate so they could get picked up. Good luck to them. I hope it worked out.

On the way in, I'd noticed a weird building near the Old High School Road Lot, that I hadn't seen before. So, on the way out, I parked in the lot and walked over to check it out.

There were two buildings, actually. The first was a little gazebo-looking thing.


It lay on the edge of a pond that looked like it might not be full year-round. There were hundreds of little saplings growing up through the water.

There were actually two ponds, the big one with all the trees in it, and another little one, maybe 20 yards across, slightly uphill, with a dam between them. A trail led from the gazebo, across the dam, towards the other building, which was mostly submerged in the pond.

Flooded Building Outside

The inside was visible through a door in the roof.

Flooded Building Inside

So weird. I'd have taken it for a boat house, but the water was way too high for it to be usable. The water level did seem to usually be a lot lower. Maybe that's what it was.

There were also clumps of bricks nearby.

Bricks Near Flooded Building

So I imagine there had once been another structure of some kind in the vicinity.

The back wall of the pond also looked like it had been constructed.

Rock Wall at Back of Pond

I wonder if there are any old photos of the area. Somebody used to do something there.

The trip home was uneventful. I even made it home in time for the game. The only problem occurred last weekend. I'd apparently forgotten to download the GPS data when I got home. Last weekend I cleared it, went for another hike, and only realized that I'd lost the data when I got back home, pulled down the new data, saved it, and realized that the previous week's data wasn't in the folder. Dangit! In 15 years or more, I'd never done that. I guess I was finally due.

No comments:

Post a Comment