It was as if dump trucks dropped a load of rocks all over the path we were walking. Limestone rocks were everywhere. I hadn’t seen anything like it. It was amazing.
There was a plant growing among the rocks. I used the rocks for the background in the photo below.
Then I shifted positions and used some green shrubs as the background.
Another exciting feature was this plant growing on the trees. I assumed it was a parasitic plant. I was cautious yet curious – I had to touch it.
Denise: “Is it safe to touch?”
Tore: “Yes, but just know you will become a parasitic plant.”
Fortunately, I did some research and learned it’s not a parasitic plant… and whew… I won’t wake up having turned into a parasite. (It’s called ball moss. Read more at Wikipedia.)
The journey continued under the hot sun. I soon realized the hike was going to be challenging. I conserved my energy and took fewer photos than usual. My focus was survival.
But then we reached a gentle stream. We had been hauling a bag of miniatures… this was the perfect setting for my canoes!
I knelt in the water for the perfect shot. I was having a grand time.
But then I started thinking…
Denise: “Is this water safe?”
Tore: “Yes, but I wouldn’t drink it. Purell your hands afterwards.”
I got up and looked at my knees—there appeared to be worms on them. Before I could scream I concluded it was plant life. Whew!
We continued our trek until we reached an amazing little grotto. It was very peaceful. I approached the wall – mesmerized by the moss and slime – ready to take a macro shot… then I slipped. No one was injured—not even my cameras. I managed to take this photo.
Tore: “This is the point where we can turn back.”
But I was confident.
Denise: “Let’s continue!”
Full-heartedly (or as I like to say, “fool-heartedly'”) we continued our journey until we reached a steep climb.
Denise: “It’s like the stairmaster at the gym!”
Except it wasn’t. This was hard.
Tore: “You can do this. You are strong.”
A plant distracted me—so I decided to sit on the rocks to take a photo.
But it was surprisingly difficult to get back on my feet on that incline of rocks.
Denise: “Just leave me here,” I joked. “I can’t go any further.”
While I was joking and the photo was done for drama—it was a very arduous hike.
Once I got back on my feet, we noticed a vulture circling the area.
Denise: “You don’t have me yet!”
After a few steps we reached the top for some scenic views.
I noticed an ant on the rocks hauling a roly-poly. This was precisely the kind of distraction I enjoy. Again, I struggled to get back on my feet but the photos were worth it. And I could relate to the ant…
We continued our trek. I cannot overemphasize the ridiculous amount of rocks on the trail.
My friend assured me that the climb up was the hard part. Once we did that—downhill would be easy. It turned out going downhill was harder than anticipated. The steep trail was covered in—you guessed it.. more rocks.
I will not soon forget the trek down those rocks. I reached a point where all I could do was look directly down at my feet and pray. If I looked at the path ahead of me—I’d have been overwhelmed. The prayers were not entirely coherent—I’d make it about half-way through a prayer then lose my train of thought as I clung on to tree branches along the way.
Eventually, we made it out of that rocky trail, which I have renamed, “Quicksand Mountain.”
Next, we reached an oasis—where there appeared to be corn dogs growing in the stream.
Turns out they were cattails.
There was a feeling of anticipation—I sensed the journey was nearing an end because we finally saw hikers and casual backpackers. I ravenously ate my granola bar – without worrying chocolate might be all over my face.
We reached the end of the trail… and paused to photograph the sign. I was very tempted to leave a note on the sign: “Warning! Hike for professionals only!” But I opted to hang my hat instead.
We reached the parking lot. I sat down on the pavement for one final photo.
The park ranger noticed me lying on the pavement and came to check on us. We were haggard but in good spirits.
I pointed in the direction of the trail, “that trail is difficult!”
He went on to recommend a different trail we should have taken that had more shade and wasn’t as difficult a climb. But by this point, all I could think about was the dinner I’d be devouring that night and the fun stories I’d get to share (and perhaps embellish!)
Big Bertha (Canon EOS 5D Mark II) with 100 mm macro lens
Hiking buddy to cheer you on when you are ready to give up and get eaten by vultures.