On Saturday, we went hiking through the amazing Pickle Springs Natural Area. The state conservation website calls it a natural wonderland, and they are right. It is absolutely fantastic—full of box canyons, glacial relict species of flora and fauna, waterfalls, and fantastic eroded formations of LaMotte sandstone. It’s a super short hike at only 2 miles, but it makes up for it in changes in elevation and general marvelousness.
Courtesy of Google’s “My Tracks”. Awesome app.
And because there are so many gorgeous things to check out, knowing that it’s a short hike allows one to meander and pause without fear of running out of daylight. This is special place. It has that kind of feeling like how things did in the 1970s when I was a kid and traveling held such a magical fascination for me—everything was interesting and the challenging bits, although sometimes difficult or unsettling, were always pretty much safe. Maybe it’s all the signs posted naming each attraction that makes it feel sort of like a woodland Disney World ride. It’s not a bad thing at all. Actually, it’s rather lovely—kinda mellowed by the touristyness of it, but still a magical treasure. The forest is friendly and open, and the rocks are steady and protective. This is the kind of place where you can go to be quiet and observant, to slow your breathing and just be. Here is Pickle Springs in pictures. Enjoy.
Just past the welcome sign.
The LaMotte sandstone that is so characteristic of this area has worn away to create very sandy soil. All of the paths here are either sand, stone, or beds of pine needles.
The Double Arch
Something’s hidey-hole in the knot of a tree.
A very happy Ronin of the Woods.
Funky plants growing on the wet rocks.
Up to the top.
Our path carved of stone.
In the pine-scented air.
And we’ll end with a gratuitous funky mushroom shot.
There were a some signs and a few places that I didn’t take pictures of—like the Headwater Falls which had no water, and Piney Glade right toward the end. This is a place that I’d like to return to in each season to see how it changes. I have the feeling it becomes more of itself in the winter time when it’s quiet and not being visited by people who just tromp through the good parts. And leave their cigarette butts. We’ve been here twice, and both times I’ve been surprised by the amount of trash people leave behind in this little gem. I don’t get it. Why would you throw trash in the very place that you just came to visit for its natural beauty? Part of that Disney feel I was talking about. Argh. I feel obligated to give back to the land that I enjoy so much by being a good steward of it. For me, this includes packing out all the trash that I find. The spirit of a place must be respected, especially when you’re gonna walk on it’s ground. These bones are far older than we, and will be here far longer, too. Someday maybe we will all care for this good earth. Until then, I’ll travel with a trash bag.
Next time, I’ll show you the fantastical Hickory Canyons. I am excite!