Christa and I went hiking for a few hours in Big Pine tract of Chinsegut Hill. (Ten points if you can correctly translate Chinsegut.) Anyhow, it has been about fifteen years since I have been on this property. Always meant to go back, just never did. A young man from church had taken me out there to show me a bridge he had found while exploring the woods. It was overgrown, there was no trail to it and the wood deck was rotted through leaving only the foundations on either side. It was likely built by Colonel Robins as it is located on what was once his land.
Christa and I had a few hours to kill so we stopped for a hike to see if we could find it. The first feature we found though, was a fifteen foot deep depression in the ground just inside the tree line of the woods. It looks like a sink hole, but with the mining and timber industry here locally it could just have easily been dug for reasons I will never know. A little further on and a few turns later we found what we were looking for. The state has made the old bridge part of a trail system and restored it back to a functioning artifact. We took some pictures and enjoyed the solitude of the woods while watching flocks of little birds fly just above the tree tops heading home to roost before sunset.
Walking further down the trail we came to a side path that looked little used and figured that narrow trail had our name on it. Down it we went. It had plenty of game trails criss crossing and it was easy to see why. There are plenty of thorny black berry bushes, persimmon trees, and oak trees to provide food as well as many low areas filled with water for drinking. Apparently it held another commodity for people who lived in the area at the turn of the century. Alongside the trail are giant pine trees that have the familiar bare stripe of a lightning stripe, except that there are lots of them with that mark within feet of each other and if you look high up the tree at the top of the bare spot you will see a “V” pattern fading in its repitition as you go down the tree. These are the remnants if the turpentine industry.
Hiking another twenty minutes we found a larger second bridge located about 150 yards west of U.S. 41. There is a sign stating that it is part of old State Road 5. Online research shows that U.S. 41 was originally S.R. 5.
We then hiked out to 41 where we found a small bridge where 41 crosses over a dry stream bed. On the east side is an old wall that diverts the water flow under the bridge. It is interesting how old structures are just left in place to be forgotten.
(Chet, we saw you cruise by on your motorcyle while we were down in the stream bed.)
On the way back to the trail head the sun was setting fast, but it was a beautiful, cool evening and we weren’t rushing to get back. It has been a full moon, so it would only be a matter of time until we had light if we needed it again. About halfway back we came to a wider cross trail where we saw four large deer bolt across in a quick succession of leaping bounds. I love watching wildlife in motion, especially deer moving with a purpose. As soon as the last one cleared the trail a coyote let out a mournful howl right behind them and about thirty yards to our right. They make a beautiful sound that will send chills up your spine. Christa wanted to stay and see if it would howl again. My vote was to put a little distance between us. (The coyote, not my wife. I know what you were just thinking!) We picked up the pace and heard it again a few minutes later one last time.
Twenty minutes later and we were back to the trail head where we stopped to watch bats perform their feeding frenzy acrobatics. It was so quiet we could their faint little chirping they use to find their insect prey. In the background was the mild buzz of an electric transformer laden with moisture that carries its sound as only a silent country road can carry sound.
I took a few moments before we left to leave a comment in the trail head log book when the woods came alive with coyote yipping from the direction we had just come from. That lone coyote turned out to not be alone after all.
Next time we intend to visit when we have more than just a few hours. If two hours yielded all these treasures, I hope a day of exploring will reveal many more.
I am uploading the photos from my cell phone so if you find they are not in order you will have to forgive me. My phone seems to decide which ones it will upload next when I send multiple uploads at a time.