Friday, July 22, 2011

A New Adventure - Hiking Azure Mountain

I'd driven up to the farm on Sunday and spent the night. Monday morning dawned bright and clear, with a warm summer day predicted. Feeling both energetic and adventurous, I decided to hike Azure Mountain, a noted peak just south of my farm. I drove to the trail head early in the morning with the four younger dogs and parked at the trail head:

There was a pile of rocks near the trail head with a sign. It asked hikers to carry a few rocks up to the summit to help with erosion protection:

The trail began smooth and level, a good omen:

As soon as I pulled my car into the trail head parking, it was bombarded by millions of deer flies and what looked like horse flies. I almost turned around and went home, but decided I should give it a try first. We made it to the sign-in kiosk without being bitten, but I was shocked to see that the flies had gotten under the glass, dying in droves and obscuring the signage. Nevertheless, I signed in and kept hiking:

It was only a few yards before the trail become more rocky and more steep. Though I was being swarmed by deer flies, I hadn't yet had any bites. Well, only a few bites. We kept hiking:

The trail gradually got steeper:

And abruptly got rockier:

Now we were walking uphill, but it wasn't really, really steep yet. I wondered why people had spoken of hiking Azure Mountain as if it was a strenuous hike:

We passed an old stone fireplace. It may have been an outdoors cook site or the base of some former cabin's indoor fireplace. I guessed the latter but couldn't really tell:

Then the trail turned a bit more sharply uphill. We kept hiking. I knew we had a long way to go and I was beginning to feel some foreboding about what lay ahead. I'll post more tomorrow:

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