Harpers Ferry, WV near the Appalachian Trail Headquarters
At the house, I decided the aspects were ripe for a long hike up the mountain known as Loudoun Heights again. Loudoun Heights, VA was the current setting for a book I was writing at the time in the “Harpers Faerie Magic” series. The temperature had come down from an average of 100 degrees, to 90 degrees. Putting aside chores and projects, there comes a time when one must set out on a day hike. Day hikes can be calming or an adventure, and sometimes both!
It had been years since I had hiked the entire mountain along the top ridge, but I missed it nostalgically. I had many memories from teenage years of camping and hiking all over the mountain with friends. I went through my list of walking sticks, and which ones were available at hand – I decided to go with the bronze poker that Dad and I used for the yard fire-pit. It was cane size for my height, and proved to be sturdy. It also is closer to being a sword than my wooden staves, which was good for combating over-grown foliage on the path; although tall staves have their advantages also (spider webs).
During the hike I saw many animals and insects I expected to see, because I had seen them up there on the mountain before, or at least in the yard. I saw many deer, common birds (crows, turkey-vultures, cardinals, bluejay, etc), a few rare birds (woodpecker and maybe a bird of prey), butterflies, and squirrels. I also saw spiders, gnats, mosquitoes, ticks, flies, bees, hornets, wasps, but luckily no snakes! I walked through 15-20 webs during the course of my hike up and across the mountain, and all of the webs had the same notorious spider handing in the middle. I say notorious, because I have seen them in the woods since elementary school, and because one finally bit me on this hike. I felt that these spiders were not classified properly, so I wrote my own web article on them: White-back Spiny Hermit-Crab Spider. In West Virginia this variety of the Spiny Orb Weaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis) is distinct from the Southern versions. Hermit-Crab Spiders have become the dominant woodland spider on the Appalachian Trail.
Before Noon I got my gear together. In an empty backpack I put: snack food, water bottle, knife, string, handkerchief, binoculars (light weight), and cell phone (camera + video). My cell phone was lighter weight than my digital camera and certainly my older video cameras, so it was good to have all those features in one; it just meant I had to email each of the files from the phone separately which takes time. Still, the tech is easier to carry, and more affordable to process than 10-20 years ago.
I knew that having those items would help me on my trip, as I set off; and so they did.
NEXT Chapter: Warlock Trail