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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"Shell Shocked" on a Hike

Yesterday, Barkley and I decided to go on a hike in Pocahontas State Park. We decided to hike the Beaver Lake Trail, a trail that encircles a lake and passes an old mill site. It started out great - we saw a herd of deer, got closer to a Great Horned Owl that I have ever been before, and Barkley chased squirrel after squirrel. As we finally arrived at the Old Mill Site, things took a weird turn. Do to the massive damage inflicted by Hurricane Isabel, the trail took an obvious right turn on freshly graveled trail, indicating a re-route. This happened near a pretty steep ravine, which had obviously had a foot bridge which was turned to kindling by falling trees. The re-route added what seemed to be a least a mile to the hike, which unfortunately put us on the final approach to the lake after dark. I was having a hard time as there were lots of re-routes. Due to the darkness, it was really hard to determine which trail to take. Finally - we approached the lake, and I could hear the water flowing over the dam that indicated we where almost back to the parking area. As we approached the water - all of a sudden objects began to land in the water about 10 feet off shore. I heard loud impacts followed by huge plumes of water flying into the air. In under a minute there were 20 + of these "objects" crashing down along the shore. I actually grabbed Barkley, swung behind a large oak, and squinted to see who or what was hurling these objects from across the lake. It was then that it hit me - this is BEAVER lake. There were a half dozen beavers just off shore - using their defense mechanism - slapping the water with their wide tails - to let me know I had ventured to close to them. What a relief it was to know that I was not being "shelled". I had a good laugh, and headed down the dimly lit trail to the car.