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Monday, May 12, 2014

#19 - Evergreen

Male Eastern Box Turtle
There have been a number of benefits for me since I began hiking regularly 5 ½ months ago. My doctor commented last week on the 10 pounds I've lost since my last visit. The extra weight I had gained was one of many reasons I began Fifty Hikes at 50.

While the physical benefits have been considerable, weekend hiking comes with its own set of requirements, and there is little time during the work week to plan upcoming trips, inventory gear, double check maps, and travel any number of hours the morning of your hike.

While you do the best you can, a day hike is a day hike. You get one day to get your act together, and into a state of mind, that you want to be in for days - not hours.

Welcome to Evergreen!
Tucked away in Southampton County, VA, lies Evergreen; a wondrous oasis of farm and forest whose parts do not entirely make up its whole. Owned by dear friends, Evergreen is part farm, with farm equipment dating back to the 1930’s; part garden, designed in storybook fashion by a Master Gardener whose designs go well beyond his vision; and part forest, with a quiet stream passing through its boundaries, offering camp sites for those who stay a night or two.

Outdoor kitchen area
Fire Pit and common area - where friends unite
Camping Area
Fruits and vegetables grow abundantly; and a barnyard with roosters, hens, peacocks, turkeys, and beehives, provide for a large number of eggs, honey - and poultry if the need were to arise.

Turkey, chickens, peacocks and other fowl thrive at Evergreen

Fresh Strawberries among the many fresh fruits and vegetables

Herb Garden

It was from Evergreen, that I got this week’s seven mile hike in. Rural in nature, Southampton County is dotted with farms, and it was during my hike I was able to see many of the telltale signs of agriculture and forestry. My goal was to make it to the town of Courtland and back, and the small country roads made for a good way to cover the miles, passing farms, fields, and forest along the way.

As I made it to the outskirts of town, I was running parallel to train tracks that would effectively loop me back to where I had started. With some of the wildlife I had already seen, I was excited to head back along the rails in an effort to see more. It turns out, I was not disappointed.

Train track return and a wild turkey
I came upon wild turkeys, deer, turtles, and other various birds and fowl along the way. I also learned, if you're not a big fan of snakes, it is sometimes best to stick to the path and leave the railroad tracks to the trains.

Male Cardinal

Eastern Box Turtle
One of numerous wild turkeys seen
As I approached a swampy area along the tracks, I came upon one snake, then two, then three, and four, all sunning themselves on the railroad ties. I had to gently navigate (and one time run), as I passed each one – neither of us liking that the other was there. I later found snake #5 back on the road, a rather large king snake, as I walked by.

One of four on the tracks

King snake along road
I made it back, passing golden fields as the sun rose higher in the sky. As I neared Evergreen I heard the iron bell ring, signaling breakfast was ready for those interested. A smile came upon my face as I entered back in to be with friends.

Thanks to Randy, Doug and friends for a great weekend,


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