INTO THE DARK OF THE WOODS


   

     It all started out one September morning when I decided to go for a walk in some nearby woods.  My usual form of exercise mainly consisted of 5 miles on a stationary bicycle in a small weight room at work.  Since I am fairly new to exercise, if I accomplished riding a four-minute mile, it meant I would be done in 20 minutes.  That particular day, I figured I would get in an hours worth of walking in because, when I walk,  I have a tendency to get distracted with the taking of pictures. 

     I drove (should have walked) about a mile from where I worked and parked my car at the edge of the woods I had decided to hike through. Before I left my car, I scribbled a note of what time I began my hike and a phone number in case of, of…..never mind.  I can only imagine my wife’s fear if she would have received a phone call informing her I was missing!  

     Upon entering the woods, I was equipped with my camera and my collapsible aluminum walking pole which I had received as a gift but had not had a chance to break it in.  Looking back on it now, taking the walking stick into the woods may not have been my best choice because of the thick undergrowth I would be traversing over.   Too late to turn back.  I had already gone 50 feet!  The deeper I got into the woods, the more evident it became to me that it had rained recently.   I knew I would be getting my shoes wet in the grass and leaves that covered the floor of the woods but I didn’t know just how wet I would be getting.  

     In the particular forested area I was in, there were no marked-out trails. One reason was that I was making my own route which was clearly not marked.  Sure, there were animal trails that had been slightly enhanced by minimal human traffic but those passages had many places that had become so fully overgrown that a person had to clamber over a fallen tree, through thorn laced vines or things of the likes. 

Plenty of these tanglers to trip me up.

 

     The vines and downed logs were not as bad as what I was about to face.  I had to deal with My own wild imagination!  There I was, All alone in the woods, (at least speaking of another human presence), where I starred in my own horror story.  The deeper I got, the worse my thoughts of “something” happening. 

     Now, you have to know that the whole woods covered an area no bigger than 1/2 mile by 1/2 mile so it wasn’t likely that I was going to get so lost that I would have to cut off my own leg and eat it raw to survive!  That would be silly.  I don’t even like leg-of-hiker!  Still……it was just me, face to face with nature.  As I continued on, I was surprised at all the variety of “discoveries” I came across.  Some of them were at the hands of squatters or other humans who had entered the forest.   some of what I happened upon was at the hands- no, at the legs and feet and so forth of the forest dwelling creatures! 

Enough trash for all to enjoy! Evidently, the "Pack it in, pack it out" rule doesn't apply!

 

I found trees with aluminum tags and colored plastic ribbons in many places. My guess is that they had something to do with surveying.

 

     I also came across some other pretty cool sites that God had contributed. 

CAPTAIN'S LOG Forest date 9-24-10 It seems as if we are about to be overtaken by "Cling Ons".

 

This mushroom had a scale-like cap.

 

A scaly mushroom as big as my hand.

 

Smaller mushrooms on a nurse log.

 

Look at all those cute baby 'shrooms!

 

     

    These just look like pancakes growing out of the log.

            

Beetle graphics!

 

           

This looks like a wig for a Sesame Street character.

 

This is Mister Stumpy. He is wired for sound and has a nose for mushrooms!

 

     And then, there was the bizarre.  I came upon some things which were not exactly what you would expect to find in a forest.

A Christmas decoration in the middle of a forest. It's not like there weren't any trees to hang it on!

 

It may not be a glass slipper but it could be the flip flop of Cinderella of the forest!

 

Just a spoonful of dirt helps the pine needles go down in the most delightful way!

 

Maybe while you're in the forest, you could pick up a second tube of toothpaste.

 

           

This is the new and improved version of the Forest Port-A-Potty. Is this really better than the old and reliable tree or bush?

 

As with most cases, someone forgot to put the lid down. Or should I just say, "No one put the lid on"?

 

Fortunately, out of the ten or so sleeping bags I came across, all were empty. No bodies, bones or blood!

 

Who needs a bumper when there is a tree? My question is, "If a bumper sticker is on a tree in the forest, will anyone read it?"

 

Forest shopping is so hard on the equipment!

 

I was certainly in the right place to help save the world by keeping the planet green!

 

     And lastly, there were the Creatures Of The Forest!

What do you mean, "I should shave my legs?"

 

This tight rope walker cheated by "walking" underneath!

 

What a tangled web they weave When forest spiders do conceive!

 

Welcome to my web-I mean to my world!

 

And my web address is inyourface.net!

 

"Honey, how about "Poor Hiker" for dinner tonight?"

 

Above my head, Tarzan swings, Onto my head, Tarzan falls, Out of my mouth, Comes the calls, "AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!"

 

Just another spider I must "face"!

 

And yet, another spider web at face level for me at 6'2". Most webs seemed to be located at that height.

 

Hold it, Buddy!

 

A spider's clothesline!

 

      I believe the below spider is the culprit of which I had most of my literal “run-ins” with!   As near as I can tell, what I encountered was the Orb Weaving Spider.

Orb Weaving Spiders (Family Araneidae).These belong to the largest family of spiders. All construct the circular, flat, wheel-like web in which they trap flying insects. The very large black and yellow garden spider is a typical example
.
 Garden spider in her web.

     Now, these creatures were not the in-your-face creatures but more the ones of under-your-foot squeeshies if you’re not careful!

This was not left behind by a dog! It is a Banana Slug.

 

Another Banana Slug. This one was about 4-5 inches. I have seen longer and thicker ones.

 

   

Oh, the horror of it all! Two slugs traveling at lightning speed, on a collision course, like a train wreck in slow motion!

 

       I also had time to just be me, which included my “entrapment”!  This case was not due to the spiders.

Can you guess what's at the bottom of this deep, (12-14") dark hole?

 

The hole sucked my shoe right off of my foot. I had to reach in and retrieve it.

 

I can't believe I willingly put my hand into this tree hole, considering all of the slugs and spiders I had already encountered!

 

I took this shot by inserting my camera inside the hole of the tree and pointing it up.

 

This shot was taken, looking down the stump and putting my hand in the hole!

 

Oh, how handy!

 

Could I offer you a hand?

 

I guess it's about time for a new hand!

 

          Finally, I found my way back out of the forest!  I had stumbled around for over two hours, had gotten 1/4 turn off according to the compass (which I didn’t have), coming out on a different side of the forest than the one I had entered into.

Nearing the end of my adventure!

 

I didn't realize how dark the forest was till I saw how bright the rest of the world was!

 

At long last, I make it back to my car!

 

Well, at least someone was waiting for me.

 

Sadly, I could not remove all of the ground in grime. Even towards the end of my work day, my clothing still looked like and smelled like musty mold of the deep, dark woods!

 

     Am I scared about going back into that forest again by myself?  Hah!  I laugh in the face of danger…..as long as I am still alive…………..safely in my car……………driving away……..in the middle of a sunny day…..!

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