A Dry Walk to a Cedar Swamp

J

JeffD

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This afternoon I hiked along the Batona trail, from Apple Pie Hill to within about a mile of the Carranza Memorial and back. The trail was dry the whole way.

About a mile in, shortly after crossing a narrow, unpaved road (it may not even be on the Wharton State Forest map), I came upon three stick and needle survivial shelter. The first one, to my left, was only about ten feet from the Batona trail. I looked snuggly inside, with just enough room inside to stretch out. Not much headroom, like a bunk on a Navy Destroyer. A little sunlight shone in from the roof, as it wasn't completely sealed on top or on the sides, but I imagine this hut-like structure would serve in an emergency. I think that's the only reason I would use it, with all those live and slightly decaying sticks that make the frame. I imagine there would be all kinds of things crawling on you after awhile. I prefer to sleep in a tent in the woods. Maybe some of the posters on this board would really dig it. :) About 50 feet down the trail, and further away from it, where two other such shelters. One of them had started to collapse. The other was higher than the others, and looked more like a teepee.

I originally thought I would turn right at one of the unpaved roads that crossed the Batona trail, then loop back to it. I wasn't sure which roads I crossed corresponded to the ones on the map. The map indicated that two of them were close together. They weren't, so I continued along the Bataona trail, heading away from Apple Pie Hill. Intermittantly, I saw bike tracks and horse hoofs in the bare sand. In one spot there was horse manure. I stopped Dolly from rolling in it.

At one point a bicylist was coming the other way. He stopped, as I made no inkling of moving out of the way. We exchanged greetings. I mentioned that the Batona trail was for foot traffic only -- no bikes or horses. He took off his headset, as he realized I wasn't just exchanging the usual cliche and wanted to hear me better. He said he didn't no that and said he was sorry. I said that the rules should be posted.

The trail began to climb down the hill, but at one spot it climbed. There were openings in the moderately forested woods, and at the point where the trail climbed was a semi-clearing. The trail went downhill, and continued that was, dropping farily sharply, more sharply than the intitial drop from the parking lot at the fire tower. The forest grew denser and I gradually decended. Suddently, cedars appeared. Up ahead was a narrow wooden footbridge that crossed a moving stream that ran through the cedars, a few feet above the water. We walked down the side of the boardwalk, where the ground was faily dry almost right up to the water's edge. Dolly and I took a drink. The water seemed cooler and had a fresher taste than the water from the stream the ran into the Basto River by the RR bridge.

I contiued on, crossing two more similar bridges. One just had a puddle under it and the other had standing water, a bit wider than the first one but shallower. At one point, to my right, on higher ground was a pitch pine forest, on my left was an isolated cedar swamp, neatly tucked away, barely visable from the trail. After awhile the Batona Trail followed an unpaved road, heading towards the left. There was a bridge on the road a few hundred feet from where the trail merged with the road. It crossed a cedar swamp. The water moved almost as fast as the stream that went under the first footbridge. I thought I must be getting close to the Carranza Memorial. I passed to hikers coming towards me and exchanged greetings and pleasantrys. The trail wove in and out of the sand road. At one point along the trail, three mountain bikes headed towards me, two boys followed by a man old enough to be their dad. I mentioned to the first boy, who was in the lead, and who slowed down, that bikes were not allowed on the Batona Trail. I also mentioned it the the man, as he biked up from behind the two boys. He also said he didn't know that, to which I replied there should be signs. Shorly after he passed by me he quipped "dogs aren't either."

"That's not true...it's just bikes and horses...As...Ho...," I retorted. Smart Alec Yuppie! :x

I kept thinking that the Carranza Memorial was right around the corner. A little further, a little further... Finally, I decided I better turn around and head back.

I caught up to the couple I had passed just a little earlier, and chatted with them briefly. The told me the Carranza Memorial was about a mile away. I mentioned the smart alec remark the mountain biker made, and one of them said that they thought that bikes weren't supposed to be on the trail. They also indicated that the remark about the dog was absurd, questioning what harm a dog would do and that as dog is foot traffic, and they never heard of any such restriction. I replied that the Batonal Trail book says HORSEBACK RIDING AND MOUNTAIN BIKES ARE NOT PERMITTED ON THE BATONA TRAIL. As I told the couple, I don't know why those bikers had to ride along the Batona trail, when there was a sand road running right beside it.

On the way back, the mountain biker I had passed by was coming the other way. It was a tight squeeze and neither of us gave an inch, almost like we were both invisible. We stopped alongside the footbridge closest to Apple Pie Hill and got another drink.

About a mile further up, a another couple was coming down from Apple Pie Hill. One of them asked me what's up ahead, and explained that they just wanted to find an interesting destination, like a stream, and then hike back. I recommended the first footbridge over the stream, which was about a mile down. I just hope they are good hikers, as I returned to my car about 5:15 p.m.

Shortly before I met them, partway down a sudden drop, I placed a small downed log across the trail to make it more suitable for foot traffic.

When I got to the parking lot on Apple Pie Hill, there was a man and two boys peddling around their bikes. I think they were the same ones I encountered near the Carranza Memorial. I had mixed feelings. I just wanted to get a quick drink (I had packed some bottled water and a dish for Dolly, not expecting to come across drinking water) and leave. I thought about showing him in my Batona Trail map where it said that bikes were not allowed on the trail. I heard one of the boys ask the man "are we going to bomb down this hill" as they milled around with their bikes by a path that led downhll towards the Batona Trail. Before you knew it, there were off --joyriders flying down the hill as if they were on a roller coaster at an amusment park. One of the boys nervously looked at me before decending.

I imaging that as the Batona Trail in this area is mostly dry sand, the bikes can't do too much physical damage. Horses do more, and make a mess for hikers along the trail. The problem is that the Batona Trail is a scenic, nature trail, for people to find solitude and stop to see the flowers, so to speak. It's not for thrill seekers. If they want thrills they should visit Six Flags. Imagine someone coming up the trail when these yahoos were flying down? This is where a big walking stick comes in handy. As Teddy Roosevelt said WALK SOFTLY BUT CARRY A BIG STICK. Maybe, as they flew down the hill where I left a reminder that the Batona Trail is for foot traffic only, they got a rude awakening. :) 8)

In spite of a mild intrusion by mountain bikers, I had a pleasant, dry hike, getting lost (figuratively) in the woods, enjoying a variety of scenery and getting tired.
 

Ben Ruset

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Shortly before I met them, partway down a sudden drop, I placed a small downed log across the trail to make it more suitable for foot traffic.
That's like the Earth Liberation Front booby trapping trails to hurt/kill ATV riders! Jeff, come back from the dark side!!! :rofl:
 
J

JeffD

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The difference is the moutain bikers and the horse riders are breaking the law. I just put up a sort of speed bump to slow down people who are using the trail illegally. The Earth Liberation Front does things to people who are using, and not abusing, resources legally. Those yahoos on bikes would only have a problem if they were racing down the hill and endangering hikers, the only folks who are supposed to be on the trail. Again, bikes and horses are not permitted on the Batona trail. This isn't my idea, but the rule. Do I need to show YOU the regulation? :roll:

There you go with your moral equivalency, egaltarianism again, Ben, much like that yuppie. :) Spin is distortion, a lie is but a lie. And there is perspective. The two are not the same.

Wharton State Forest needs to use some common sense and place signs at strategic places along the Batona Trail designated it's use, and enforce the rules. Campbell, et al, is so concerned about people moving dirt around on their own property, etc. but what about keeping a special trail amoungst the multitude of trails, special, in a area he's responsible for? As the refrain from the Jonathan Edwards' song goes HE CAN'T EVEN RUN HIS OWN LIFE, I'LL BE DAMNED IF HE'LL RUN MINE :roll:
 

Ben Ruset

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Jeff,

Parts of the Batona trail are open to more than just foot traffic. In fact you have to drive along a portion of it to get to Calico from Marthas Furnace. Please post a link with these "regulations" you're spouting. I just spent about 15 minutes looking for them and couldn't find them.

Obviously the safety of the riders never crossed your mind when you put an obstacle in the path. What gives you the right to enforce the rules in the state forests and risk other peoples lives just so you can play Mr. Policeman?
 

Teegate

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Jeff,

I was at Apple Pie Hill at about 1PM and there was a young man on a blue bike riding the trail. There was also a vehicle with plates from out west parked there. If you returned to your car at 5:15 and walked as far as you said, we must have just missed each other.

Guy
 
J

JeffD

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I came to the parking lot at Apple Pie Hill Sunday about 2 p.m, Guy. I was going to be their earlier, but had spent more than 1/2 hour looking for my boots.

Ben, I ask what right do the moutain bikers and horses have to be on that trail? You're making a big deal out of doing something very small to maintain the trail for what it was intended for, like someone sticking his foot out when someone is running by with a pocketbook he just stole. The policeman evidently isn't doing his job, and it sounds like you caught a case of political correctness, maybe from the green beer you just drank. The problem with today's society is permissivness, the just-let-people-do-what-thay-want-reguardless-of-how-it-effects-others. I've dealt with clowns on mountain bikes at the park where I worked. There was one case where an elderly woman who was taking a stroll in the woods was knocked down by one of these yahoos. I admit that these bikers slowed down, but it's still annoying that, especially with all the paths in the area, they have to ride on the Batona trail. I was annoyed more by the attitude of the man with the boys than the fact that he was there. That was the attitude amounst many of the mountain bikers at the park where I worked (also some of the horse riders), that their activing comes first and they can do whatever they want. This is anarchy. You whine about the safety of the riders. Well how about the safety of the hikers? The riders faced essentially no more than a speed bump, and, hey, if they decide to act like some MTV Jackass then let them suffer the consequences. It seems like some people, such as members of the American Criminals Liberty Union, think wrongdoers have more rights than those who are in the right.

I know that some parts of the Batona Trail are open to more than just foot traffic. The unpaved road from the highway that runs from Tabernacle to Chatsworth is part of the Batona Trail. But only a dote or spinmister couldn't see that the Batona Trail from Apple Pie hill, for several miles, is a foot path. In places it's very narrow. And in other places the Batona Trail follows sand roads. The trail is well marked.

I agree that there should be access roads to places for people who don't walk far. And there is. But there are limited places, narrow trails, for those who want more of a wilderness experience. Now don't even try to sping this into me being a member of the wilderness cult. My problem with this cult is that they want billions of acres set aside, with no access or any unpaved roads. We don't need ALL that wilderness in Alaska, where noone goes, not even the doggies who make the yellow snow, or parts of the west, we need open space here. The restricted areas in the Pine Barrens are few, and they should be. There is plenty of this for people who want to just get into the woods and get away from it all, including mountain bikes and horses. People just need to repect them and the authorities need to protect them.
 

Ben Ruset

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It's not a case of political correctness, it's a case of wondering why you took it upon yourself to take an action that could possibly harm someone else. Don't confuse the issue.

I agree that those bikers should not have been there. I don't agree with you doing something to risk their safety. At least a hiker has a better chance of being seen than a log in the road.

Understand this, I worry about people booby-trapping trails that I drive my Jeep on because they feel that I shouldn't be there. People in the ELF love doing this sort of stuff. The mentality that you had putting that log there is the same one that they have putting boards with nails in them to pop tires, or stringing piano wire at neck height to decapitate an ATV rider. While the ELF is more extreme, it's still a case of someone who thinks that they have the right to police land that they have no business policing.

If you're upset with the fact that there are bike riders on the trail, then complain to the state. Don't try to hurt some kids and their dad by throwing stuff on the trail to have them possibly run over.

Anyway, whatever Jeff, I won't change your mind, so I am just going to drop it.
 
J

JeffD

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I remember that, Guy.

I may have been looking at the same shetlers in your photo, Annie.