We headed to Brown’s Woods for a sweet 2-mile hike to test out our new camera and get some exercise. We’ll have to practice getting the lighting right, and focus. It’s a Nikon D5100; we got it for each other for Christmas and had to take turns behind the lens. Wilbur is almost impossible to capture when he’s busy exploring the trail.
Hikes are best when followed by Wendy’s frosties and fries, right?
Three cheers for this mild Iowa winter!
(Although a little snow on the trail could have looked lovely and this would be an excellent place to snowshoe/cross-country ski.) We headed south of Des Moines on Saturday to explore the Clanton Creek Natural Resource Area and get a little hiking in. We tried to do this hike about three years ago, but were thwarted when our car died on the side of the highway. I’m glad we finally made it!
We parked at the East Trail Head and followed the out-and-back main trail for a total of about eight miles. It felt much longer on the way out (isn’t that always the case?) but made for a good total distance. There’s also a two-mile loop you can access from the east side, but if you’re driving down from Des Moines I feel like you’d want to go the distance, right? The West Trail Head is very close to the 6-acre pond, if you’re into fishing. Here’s a map, although it doesn’t have miles marked and I have no idea what the purple dots represent. There are a few hike-in campsites, which I find exciting. I get super cranky-pants at campsites where we wind up next to teenagers whose idea of spending QT in nature is throwing beer cans into the fire. We will return for an overnight adventure, perhaps when the Madison County Winery tasting room is open!
The main trail makes for a hilly hike, past prairie grasses, through the forest and under some pine trees. It’s easy to follow, although we did not see any mile markers along the East-West route, and there are no maps at either trailhead. The trail crosses the creek in two or three places.
We thought we'd see a map at the west trail head. No such luck!
The creatively named 6-acre pond
Sky blue sky.
A winter walk.
I would love to see a Boy Scout Troop take on this trail and outfit it with some maps, better mile markers and perhaps a trash bin at the parking areas, because we did see a small amount of litter around there.
Wilbur was loving the nature smells.
It’s hard to believe that next week is February. This felt like a lucky November afternoon instead of late January! P.S. Did you know you can rent snowshoes at Active Endeavors? Last I checked, they were about $12 or so for the day.
A few months ago, “The Way” was playing at our neighborhood indie theater, The Varsity. (It’s the kind of place that doesn’t even show previews.) Joe and I went to see it partially because, after I studied abroad in London in 2006, I went to Spain and hiked the section of the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail between Leon and Santiago de Compostela, and partially because we love “The West Wing” and Martin Sheen. Although I hiked about 180 miles, my portion of the trip only made a brief cameo in the movie, which should be out on DVD soon.
My high school friend Greg and his mom are planning on hiking el Camino this summer, and so I had the occasion to pull out my travel journal from the trip more than once these past few weeks and retrace my steps in my memory.
I must remember to always write a travel journal – although the things I recorded from this trip (silly dogs I saw in towns, funny conversations) aren’t very practical when it comes to sharing tips with others. I remember having wanted to hike the Camino since I was a young teenager, after I read wacky Shirley MacLaine’s book in which she makes the pilgrimage and (if I recall correctly) has several out-of-body experiences. I was very much embodied on my journey (as heel blisters reminded me), but there’s definitely something magical about pursuing a path that was established many centuries before. Peregrinos (pilgrims/hikers) get stamps in a passport along the way, meet people from all over the world, travel until you’re too tired and experience the Celtic Galician culture, which is different than what comes to mind when most people think of Spain.
I’m at my happiest when I’m just walking, plain and simple, seeing the world at a plodding pace. I’m not a skilled map-reader, so the more well-worn the path, the better. I walked to work today, in this spring-feeling weather, and even that simple little trek set my day on a more pleasant trajectory. In a way, walking is an art. It’s a meditation. It’s getting comfortable with the way your body and your mind move together. Now I sound like Shirley MacLaine!
I need to discover more favorite walks in Des Moines. I think perhaps Joe and I will go for a little hometown hike this weekend!