Wednesday, August 30, 2017

In Search Of Monarchs ... And A Spark

It's been one hundred and forty days since I walked off the Appalachian Trail (AT).  It has been one hundred and forty days since I last hiked.  This is the longest period without hiking since I started in earnest in 2007.  Today I went for a short hike in search for monarch butterflies and the spark I feel when I hit the trail.

Late summer wildflowers.
I headed to Hitchcock Nature Reserve thinking my re-entry into hiking should not be an urban one but one in nature.  I was out of shape, as I expected I would be, but it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  The hike was a short one with a few steep, but short, hill climbs including the Angel Dead End trail which I'd seen but never climbed until today.

Angel Dead End Trail.
Every year the monarch butterflies migrate through the area.  I have seen dozens of monarchs along the trails in Hitchcock Nature Reserve during this time of year.  I posted about them in 2011.  I've seen the largest numbers along Westridge trail.  I hiked to the spot and found nothing.  Not one Monarch.  I only saw three non-monarch butterflies along the entire hike.  Not sure where they are.  The weird weather and heat we have had this summer may have shifted the migration path/timing.  Very disappointing.

Hmmm ... This reminds me of something.
As for the spark ... there was no spark.  The weather was beautiful, the late summer flowers were blooming, the birds were singing, and the sun was sparkling off the dew but the feeling I used to get when I was out on the trail just wasn't there.  I guess my failed AT attempt did more damage than I thought.  I'm not going to give up.  I want to regain that spark but it may take a few more hikes to relight the fire.

Total Distance: 3.09 Miles (4.97 km)
Total Time: 1 hours 24 minutes
Total Elevation Up: 504.5 ft (153.7 m)
Total Elevation Down: 507.0 ft (154.5 m)

Map of my Hitchcock Nature Reserve hike.
Pictures of Hitchcock Nature Reserve I've taken over the years, including a few from this hike, can be found in my 2008-2017 Hitchcock Nature Reserve Google Photos album.

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