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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sticking my neck out

As I've written here and on Facebook, it's been a trying week in Chinese class. Fortunately, the great outdoors is close at hand, and a negative-ion shower proved to be just the tonic I needed this morning as I explored Mason Neck State Park, a Virginia state park just a short 45-minute drive from Falls Church.

The first trail I took after parking in the picnic area lot was the Bay View Trail. The bay in question is Belmont Bay, located at the mouth of the Occoquan River and part of a network of waterways leading to Chesapeake Bay. The trail followed the shoreline of the bay before turning inland:

The views of the interior were no less impressive as the trail passed through a freshwater marsh, tinged with the colors indicative of the onset of fall:

From the marsh, the path made its way through the forest. From the Bay View Trail, I continued on to the Wilson Spring Trail, and then the Kane's Creek Trail. From the latter, I took a detour onto the Eagle Spur Trail. The latter route is so named because it ends at an observation blind overlooking Kane's Creek, which is a nesting and roosting area for the bald eagle. I spotted several birds of prey circling the skies over the treetops in the distance, but a park ranger who was leading a troop of boy scouts confirmed that they were turkey vultures, and not the national bird. It was still a nice out-and-back walk:

The rest of the hike consisted of ambling through the woods, as I made my back to the Kane's Creek Trail:

As I was zip-a-dee-doo-dahling along, I came face-to-face with a deer walking toward me. The deer got off the path and moved into the woods, but it didn't seem too perturbed by my presence. A couple that passed by while I was taking the photo below told me that they had just seen a fox cross their path a few moments earlier:

Following my brush with Bambi, I returned to the Wilson Spring Trail, which in turn connected with the Bay View Trail, from where I made my way back to the parking lot. Mission completed and head cleared, I'm ready to tackle 中文 again in the week upcoming.

Today's vital statistics include a walking time of roughly three hours; a distance of about 5.5 miles (8.9 kilometers); and an elevation gain of 250 feet (76 meters).

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