(click on thumbnail images for full size picture)
It’s quality, not quantity that makes a hike special! And four quality hikers and three special dogs showed up Saturday morning at 8 AM in the rain when it was 42 degrees and had a WONDERFUL time hiking together at Little Bennett!
At the beginning of the week, this hike was full and we had half a dozen folks on the wait list. By the dreary morning of the hike, all but six people had cancelled and two of those were no-shows. So, after signing in we filled our pockets with Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and Blue Dog biscuits. Then we bundled up and added big handfuls of Midnight Milky Way candies (courtesy of Alice and Diva.) Thus provisioned we set off into the forest. We enjoyed unfettered access to the trails and complete peace and quiet. There were no other hikers to distract us as we got in touch with our inner NATURE LOVERS! What a treat to find secluded trails, well maintained and available to us at no charge and without reservations! YES!
In addition to long-time regulars Alice and Diva, who were "easy hikers" a couple of years ago and have now clearly become "hardy hikers," our group included "Honorary Auntie" Gwen, usually dogless but this time accompanied by her brother’s boxer pup, Brindle, who although still a bit jet-lagged after a 9-hour flight from Germany a couple of days before managed to fully participate with gusto. Pat brought Rory, whose hiking prowess was undiminished by the rain slicked leaves, mud and rocks. Jeff came alone because Katy is still nursing a bum shoulder but making good progress and planning to join the 2nd Annual Holiday Hike next month.
We hiked the advertised "first loop" down Hyattstown Mill Rd. and across Bennett Creek on Beaver Valley trail, and uphill past huge anthills made by Allegheny Mound Builders. We topped out at Bennett Ridge and enjoyed the last of the fall foliage as we wound our way down Woodcock Hollow and along Whitetail trail, where we actually saw a herd of whitetail deer. We took the long way around the nature trail and over to the amphitheatre where we enjoyed access to sheltered picnic tables for lunch. Lots of laughs, and lots of calories to fuel ourselves and prevent hypothermia. We took the Big Oak trail around to Antler Ridge and back to Beaver Valley and returned to the parking area.
Then, by unanimous consent we ditched the second loop. Instead we trudged down to Kingsley schoolhouse to play in the rain! Everyone enjoyed the swirling waters of Little Bennett Creek, and running back and forth across the swinging bridge. Hard to tell who had the most fun. The dogs loved it of course, but it was the people who dropped all inhibitions and became 8 year-olds before our very eyes! We had a ball while those rain drops just kept a-fallin’ on our heads. And it was with reluctance that we finally returned to our cars. For those who participated, the memories will last forever (especially with help from Jeff’s great photos.) For those who missed it: you'll have another chance! Little Bennett is a favorite place and we’ll do it again.