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Woke up this morning, and by 0630 had donned my pack, leashed the dog, and was out the door for a nice 1.5 mile jaunt around a local lake. It wasn't a grand hike. It was more of a preparation for an upcoming hike (in the event that I am able to go), but with the geese beating their wings low across the water, the ducks noisily herding each other away from the oncoming threat of myself and my dog, and just the smell and feel of moist earth yielding under each footfall, it has already been a heck of a morning.

If anyone else is still on this board, ask & I'll go into the upcoming hike.

Hmm... 3 day weekend. I wonder if I can get out to the mountains for a quick hike...

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Hey Tim!

I just found this board because of the lil memo over on the side of the screen naming some of the other boards. I'm not sure I would have bothered to go through the lists otherwise.

We haven't ever done any Hiking, but we ramble a lot. We often go to Park City, and less often to Vail, during the summers and ride chair lifts up and hike down. Camelback near Phoenix is always fun. My favorite new thing is snow shoeing.

Rambling around home can probably be described more as a ratchet up from a mosey to a stroll. Still, it's something we like to do, and the way you described your morning is exactly why.

Tell us about the upcoming hike!

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Yep, tells us about your trip!

Recently, all we've done is hour-or-so 'hikes' in local state parks. It is good to get out, and the dog loves it.

Over New Year, I was back in my homeland, and myself and some friends from Uni days rented a cottage in Grasmere, in the (English) Lake District. We've done this every New Year since 1996/7, although I missed last year. It started off with 3 of us staying in youth hostels with an old Mini and an old Land Rover (older than me!). The Mini is no more, and my Land Rover is up for sale. These days there's half a dozen of us (this time 6 + 4 visitors staying in the area), new cars (okay we rented!), etc. I guess that indicates the growth in income, if you're a graduate! :-)

The other two "originals" are "Peak Baggers" (hiking trainspotters as I call them) - they're aiming to do all the 2000+ft peaks in England & Wales, and all the "Wainwrights" in the Lake District (these are defined as 'notable peaks' so exclude some of the technical 2000+fters, but include some that are lower).

They do some manic hikes (7-8 peaks in a day, although they hike horseshoes & ridges so it isn't as hard as that sounds), which I've joined them for in the past. I prefer to do more interesting walks.
Also 2000-3000ft peaks don't sound much, but your typical British hike starts from near sealevels. The valley bottoms are usually 100-150m above sealevel.

Also over NY, there's a good chance of snow & ice. This year we had the best weather ever - no rain, some snow, lots of ice, and wonderful clear skies. (it can be quite miserable if there's rain & low cloud).

I'm out of shape - the first day knackered me, and we didn't go that high - or particularly far. The second day we went around Grasmere Lake (which was frozen!). The third day we had a lazy half day and went up to a tarn up on the hill behind the cottage. Very pretty with the ice, but on the way down we passed a group who were not equipped!!
(no maps,etc. [asked us the way], poor footwear & coats, etc)

I've got some pretty pictures, I'll have to scan them and put them on my website.

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Well, about that trip...

It may actually be a misnomer to call it a hike.

Over the past couple of years, 3 times I've run down to South Carolina to my alma mater to tramp through the Swamps of the Francis Marion National Forest with a former academic advisor. He holds two doctorates in English Literature and is a former member of the US Army Special Forces. This means that he is both wickedly intelligent, and just a little bit off.

The swamps we go through are somewhat ominously named. Our leader is quite the storyteller, but maps confirm that we've hiked through Hellhole swamp. When on one trek we found that three compasses had independent opinions on the actual location of Due North, we found another named Iron Swamp. They're the types of places that not even the forest rangers delve into.

The forest is named after Francis Marion, the South Carolinian "Swamp Fox" of the Revolutionary War. Some say that the movie "The Patriot" was somehat based on his story. Essentially, after defeats in engagements with the British, Marion switched tactics. According to one state Web site (, "Marion organized a troop (1780), which, after the American defeat at Camden in the Carolina campaign, constituted the chief colonial force in South Carolina. Engaging in guerrilla warfare, he disrupted the British lines of communication, captured scouting and foraging parties, and intimidated Loyalists. His habit of disappearing into the swamps to elude the British earned him his nickname."

The swamps are thick. They are not friendly. Game trails are rare and do not do much to keep the adventerous soul from paying a price for admission. The density of the thicket is amazing. Briars as big around as my thumb are woven into vegitative barriers. We generally move into the swamps at dusk, move out to high ground (having travelled through cypress knees and water varying between ankle and thigh deep) until we find ground high and dry enough for us to lay out sleeping bags and drift off under the stars. In my last adventure, I learned the value of bringing a hammock and a mosquito net hood.

However, it is in the daylight that things get particularly dicey. The need for machetes to clear a trail in the dense vegetation and the splashing and talking is enough to scare off most deer and boars. However a couple of springs ago the weather warmed up just enough for us to get a nice look at any number of angry water moccasins. I'm not a snake person. I don't mind them much, but I also don't know much about them. It is somewhat intimidating (to say the least) to see them open-mouthed and ready to strike, only to go underwater as you approach. On occasion, we've held them at bay with the dull edge of a machete as we pass by in file.

The trips have not been without hardship. The incident at Iron swamp caused us to become horribly lost. Without reliable compass readings, and with a day that went from overcast to cold and drizzly, it was after dark before we were able to get out of the swamp again. On another trip we managed (en masse) to drink through our water supply at midday on our final day, and were forced to resort to collecting (and purifying) water from cypress stumps until we could get back to the cars. In a more pedestrian fashion, we have always been tired. At times cold. There are simply no facilities to be had, and we're a site to behold upon our departure from the swamp. (And boy do we turn heads on the last day when we show up at Shoney's.)

I'm sure you're thinking at this point that I would be insane for looking forward to the trip. I can't say much in my own defense. However I can say that the rich, moist atmosphere in the interior of the swamp, the richness of the green, the darkness of the water, perhaps even the inhospitability of the swamps are something not to be missed. It is absolutely untouched natural beauty. It's hard to get to it. It's not easy to stay. But it's absolutely worth the trip.

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