Friday, April 25, 2014

From the Land of Ma'am: Hiking at South Mountain

Happy Friday!  I guess every day is like Friday for me right now...  don't hate me for saying that...  But in my defense, I really feel like I have earned every hour of this time off! I know that I will never have 5 weeks off again until I retire, which is like a bajillion years away, so I am trying to balance being productive/handling moving-related tasks with enjoying my time off.

Wednesday was an 'enjoying my time off' kind of day (but I also handled a huge move-related task which I'll talk about next week) as I went hiking at South Mountain State Park.  Shortly before I moved to Charlotte, a coworker who had lived here for 18 months gave me a list of hikes to check out.  But a week after I arrived here, I found out about my stress fracture and was not able to do much of anything.  But I held onto that scratched out list of hikes - just in case.  And luckily I am getting a chance to do some of them!  I started with the South Mountain hike because it was only 80-90 minutes from Charlotte so a very easy day trip for me.

The night before the hike, I was video chatting with my sister and told her how I was going hiking the next day.  She said - 'by yourself?' and I said of course.  She then asked if we had rattle snakes or other snakes in NC as that is something she has fears of encountering while hiking on her own and I was very dismissive and said, 'nah, I have never seen any on my other hikes.'

So imagine my anxiety when the first thing I see at the trail head is a sign warning hikers about the presence of rattle and copper head snakes.  #cuepanicattack

I am deathly afraid of snakes.  I couldn't even bring myself to read what the small print of this sign said because the pictures TERRIFIED ME.

But I gave myself a little pep talk and told myself that snakes would hear me and stay away.  I did a lot of random clapping and a little bit of singing to try to make all the snakes aware of my presence.  I didn't see any snakes, thank God, so I guess it worked (and made me look like a crazy lady probably).

The views along the trail were gorgeous and worth all the snake-anxiety.  I did 2 different trails - the first led to a waterfall and the views along the way were gorgeous.

Proof that I actually did this hike and did not steal these photos from the internet
 The first trail was not too tough, but there were a lot of stairs in one section so my legs definitely got a workout!

I tried to stop along the way as much as possible to soak in all the beauty.  Chances are I will never come back to this park so I took a lot of photos to capture this experience!

After completing the popular waterfalls hike, I did a more strenuous hike to a lookout area.  The terrain of this hike was more rough and steep, but the view at the end was worth it!!

I got to that look out point around lunch and ended up arriving there at the same time as this small group of 5 people who were all retired.  I sat down and ate the lunch I had packed and had a really good time conversing with them.  They gave me recommendations for other hikes to do in the area and we talked about things like the books Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.  It was nice to have some social interaction.  But then they told me about a 5 foot long rattle snake they saw on a hike they did last spring and I almost had to plug my ears.  One of the women wanted to show me a picture but I managed to avoid having to look at photos of this monstrous snake. 

After that I headed back down the trail to my car as I had to get back Charlotte to attend to some business related to my move...  I'll share the details of that with you next week!

Have a great weekend, everyone!  I'm going to the National Whitewater Center tomorrow - not to white water raft (not my thing) but instead to do some of their ropes courses and zip lines with a former coworker.  It's another thing on my Charlotte bucket list!

Are you afraid of snakes?  I'm irrationally terrified of them.  I know this makes me a bit of a wimp but I am OK with that.  I basically can't handle any creatures like snakes, spiders, mice, rats, you name it. 


Heather said...

So beautiful!

Snakes are really gross to me and I will take off running from them, but my biggest fear is fish. I know it sounds totally irrational, but I had some bad experiences at a young age that have ruined me for life

Becky said...

I don't like snakes (really, who does?) but I don't know if I'm terrified of them. Although, really, the only one I've ever seen in person is a black garden snake (pretty harmless) so if I were face to face with one I might change my tune!

GREAT photos! So glad you're soaking up this time - don't apologize for it - you've earned it!

Marlys said...

That hike was beautiful! I can almost feel it in my legs! :)!! So glad you are getting the chance to do this as that is a beautiful area! And I can attest to the fact that you do have a great fear of creepy crawly things so am so thankful you didn't encounter any on the path! Whew!
Enjoy your next excursion!

Nora said...

I'm totally like Indiana Jones: "Snakes? I HATE Snakes." So you're not alone in that. We encountered one in Door County in a State Park as we were walking to a lighthouse and I jumped a mile and nearly into D's arms. the snake was un-phased by my scream but of course others were not. I turned a lot of heads.

The hike is beautiful; gorgeous photos. the last time I did a hike was when we were in Door County this last fall and it was so fun to get to the lookout point but of course the terrain + steps to get to it were bun killers.

Agreed with Becky- do not apologize for your time off. It's well-deserved. And hopefully no one hates it/you for having this time off either; that's just ridiculous!

Marisa A. said...

Personally, I think snakes are cute. I love their beady little eyes. So not surprisingly I also like mice, rats, etc. However, I have arachnophobia like no other. I hate it because it's so irrational, but I seriously will break down into hysterics if someone tries to show me a spider or scorpion. I just can't. However when hiking in Colorado with my friend we encountered a rather large snake which my friend looked concerned about so then I was concerned because I figured he knew more about venomous snakes in Colorado than I did.

Amber said...

HATE SNAKES. Would rather run into a bear, or coyote or almost any other wild animal (except maybe a cougar) over a snake. We have actually ran into snakes a couple of times on trail runs but they were all garter or bull snakes (harmless) but still resulted in screaming and jumping over them! I've also seen a bear and a cougar on trail runs before and heard coyotes but none freaked me out as much as the snakes. Actually, last year during the same 25km trail race I'm doing next weekend a group of runners came upon a PILE of rattlesnakes on the trail and had to go 15 feet off the trail to get around them. OH MY GOD. I have been thinking about that a lot the last few days. I will die if that happens to me!

Anyways, I definitely do not hate you for this time off and I'm not even jealous because you had such a HELLISH year that this is the least the universe can do for you! I can't think of anyone who would deserve this time off more and I'm glad you're taking advantage of it!

Jeanie said...

First of all -- no apologies for enjoying the time off. It is a gift to cherish before you start in again!

The hike looks gorgeous. What great photos. Like you, I'm freaked by snakes. I think it was Grandmother's final legacy as she was terrified of them, too. Glad you saw none and enjoyed it all!

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

I won't ever forget the time a college girlfriend and I decided to study at the town library instead of on campus. We found a couple tables together and I threw a book that was in the seat onto the table. My friend turned around, SCREAMED (in the library) and got really mad at me for the prank. Little did I know that she was deathly afraid of snakes and the book happened to be a coffee table sized book on snakes. We had a very good laugh after that.

I am not afraid of snakes, but I don't exactly think they're warm and snuggly, either. I have a general rule of thumb, which is I'm cool with bugs, insects, wild animals, so long as they do not come into my circle of living ... which is my house in the city or the camper and campsite when camping. =)

Emilie said...

I am also terrified of snakes, especially poisonous ones. I probably would have turned around if I saw that sign and was by myself!! We have had a lot of coyote sightings in the trails near where I live so I've been avoiding them for my solo runs lately as I am more afraid of animals that could outrun and/or eat me, haha. The waterfalls look gorgeous! I haven't been hiking in a couple years and your photos make me want to find a new spot to explore!

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

Yikes, snakes. I don't have a particular fear of snakes but I agree with Becky, who likes snakes? And I don't know if I really want to see them when I'm out hiking especially by myself.
I'm so glad you are enjoying some of your time off. You ABSOLUTELY deserve it and shouldn't feel bad for a second saying every day is your Friday or anything else. I only wish I was also on some kind of random break that did not involve a child so I could come do these hikes with you ha ha. Those waterfalls are amazing!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I'm not into wildlife so I would not be a fan of solo hiking. I almost had an anxiety attack over the bear warnings in the Smoky Mountains!

Stephany said...

Snakes are terrifying. I am not much of a nature person because of all the wildlife you can encounter. (I just get so paranoid I'm going to encounter some blood-sucking insect or something. I'm weird.)

I know we've talked about this but I hate that you feel you have to apologize for your five weeks off. For anyone who is jealous of you, they need to realize all the shit you've had to go through in the past year. You deserve this more than anyone I know. Plus, you work so damn hard that you deserve some R&R! (Oh, do we NEEEED to mention how your past 3 years have been taken up with CFA studying? YES? NO? Lemme at these haters!!! ;) I got your back!)

Zip-lining is one of my all-time favorite activities. I want to do it again & again & again. Hope you had a fun day!

Abby said...

Beautiful!! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hike there. We have some beautiful hikes here in AZ. but water like that is extremely rare, as you can imagine. ;)

Well, hopefully my tip about making noise helped? I always sing. And sometimes where I worry someone will here me, and think I'm crazy, I will sign things like "Pleeeease, be no snakes on the trail!"

I have encountered my fair share of snakes. We actually got struck at by a rattler once. Thank God Ryan saw it before I, so he pushed me back. The snake was really just attacking a lizard, and wanted nothing to do with us.

I thought of you during the mud run yesterday. We had to army crawl through one of those tunnels that go under roads - and they put fake snakes in there. The first time we encountered this - we started SCREAMING! And the race volunteers had to assure us they were fake. It was kind of funny....#neveragain

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I am irrationally terrified of spiders ... but I LOVE snakes. In fact, if I come across one in the wild, I will often pick it up (if I know what kind it is). As a kid I used to catch snakes on our land and my brother and I would sell them to the pet store for $20 an icecream pail full, haha!