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  • Writer's pictureDavid Greiner

Two Days Hiking at Potters Pasture

My campsite was nestled into the edge of the wooded tree line at the base of a hill that you don't realize is there until look closely through the trees. This is New Camp. My base for the next couple of days. I decided to make camp here, door facing the woods so I would have my privacy. (I'm the only one there, so it really is private this trip)

It was mostly shady when I arrived and set up camp. Now that camp is set, it is approaching 4:30 and the breeze is picking up. The shadows too are beginning to lengthen. The western edge of my camp is bathed in warm late-day sunshine. The sun feels good on my bare arms.

When camp set up is done, I begin to settle in. This is when I really notice the silence. The silence of nature. Leaves of light green, pale yellow, and deep gold rustle and crackle in the periodic breeze the blows through them. I can hear the cows in far distance as they move about their meadow.

I decide to stretch out in the hammock for a little while. The flutter of wings, the chirping as birds are coming and going from the tree branches above me, down to the water trough, just ahead of my camp in the center of this meadow pasture. The majority of these visitors happen to be woodpeckers which are jumping from limb to limb pecking on that limb once they arrive. After a few taps, the bird will move on to another limb. This tap-tap-tap echoes throughout the trees that I am lying beneath.

I get up and decide I should climb to the top of the hill on the Children's Trail so I can get a cell signal and do a check in real quick. As I head over, I notice that there is a group of wild turkey's strolling along the meadow across the street.

Upon my return to camp, I can't help but notice that the sounds have changed a little. This Symphony of sound is ever evolving. No longer do I hear the chirps and taps of the woodpeckers. Now I hear the sounds of the nighttime insects. The cricket chirp, the buzz of flies. So many flies (here in a cow pasture, go figure.) The buzz sometimes sounds like a unified roar. They flit about along with an assortment of bees and other flying insects. So many that when looking toward the lowering sun against the shadows of the woods, you see them swarming up and down, around and around. Small almost translucent spiders will periodically make a dash across the carpet.

The only sound of humans are the occasional farm truck going by, or a jet plane heading west-the contrails gleaming in the lowering light. Once again the symphony of sound evolves. A single solitary chirp of a bird on one of the branches above me and the faster rush of the leaves dancing as they flutter in the increasing breeze.

As the afternoon closes to evening and twilight reaches me, it is time to consider dinner. Just as well, the shadow of the pen on the journal page is reaching completely across both pages of my book making it a challenge to continue writing.

I haven't seen any light poles out here. When it gets dark, I will really be dark. The setting sun over the ridge and trees, with the cloud formation makes it look like a volcano eruption into the sky, and once again the symphony of sound makes another change. I no longer hear the buzz of the flies, but the crickets and other creatures of the dark begin their movement, as the chirping birds settle into their nighttime roosting spot for the night.

I have always been a morning person. Out here is no exception. I decide to step outside for a little bit. The silence was deafening- save a single cricket somewhere off in the distance. A slight breeze was blowing which made the cool morning feel a bit more chilled in the darkness.

When we live in town or cities we don't often get to see the night sky in its magnificence. We forget until we are somewhere like out here, with no ambient light anywhere, the celestial display is the stuff of Planetarium performances.

After some coffee, I decide to get my camera ready for some sunrise photographs. As I go out in the pre dawn, I hear it. Off in the distance. The chilling bark and howl of coyotes. Then another in reply off to the left and a little farther in the distance. I have to honestly say that I have never actually heard such in person. Being alone out here in the darkness, it made the hairs on my arms stand up. It is a very chilling sound in the dark. These "creatures of the night," to borrow from Bram Stoker, seem to be very active. They are off in the distance, but their calls are being carried by the wind. I don't feel anything to be concerned about, but my imagination certainly went to work really quickly.

I am in a valley so the sunrise wasn't as spectacular as I had hoped. I did enjoy seeing the tops of the trees kissed by the brilliance of the sun. I watched as the sun slowly reached down and lit up the ground. First on the hills, then into the valleys warming everything the rays touch.

The wind picks up and remains gusty all day, and into the next. both days I manage to get about 10 miles combined hiked. Climbing the hills and descending into the valleys along these trails reveal so much that the photographs don't really convey the beauty of the sights and panoramic views. I discovered a few surprises along the way.

I was able to hike most of the south and east end of the pasture and some of the northeast corner. When I return I will base from Old camp and work on the west, south and northern portions I have not seen yet. My goal is to explore all of the pasture's trails. Multiple times.

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