I can only persuade my teenage daughter to hike with me if the destination is a weird relic or landmark, so this week I offered to take her to the "bullet car" and she readily agreed. We drove up Palmer Mill Road and parked at the barrier to minimize the distance.
The user path up the hillside was easy to spot and was more worn than any time I'd seen it before the fire. Someone had trimmed some ferns and leveled the tread in a couple spots, and when we emerged onto the road above, there was a tiny rock cairn marking the junction.
Walking north on Smith Road, there were only a few trees pulled down onto the road. But it quickly got much worse, with lots of trees overlapping randomly and a lot of viney underbrush to trip you up. Someone had started blazing an easier path through here, with flags zig-zagging around the downed trees, and a few saw cuts through them. That ended after about 100 yards and then we were on our own. It was not at all difficult to see where the road went, just hard to walk on it because of all the trees pulled down onto it.
Actually we passed through a few sections of varying difficulty. Some were easy to walk, just stepping over a log every 10 feet or so. Others were more dense and slow going. Either way, my daughter had a great time playing obstacle course and finding the occasional bit of old junk that still litters this area.
I was surprised to reach the junction heading west to the car. This used to be a faint, overgrown path that I had sometimes walked past and had to turn back for a second look. Now it's an unmissable 15 foot wide swath of pulled down trees. When we reached the car, that also looked pretty different. I remember it as a clearing somewhat hidden from the road, but now the cut goes right up to it, and the clearing has been turned into another wide road heading north between the bullet car and that other smaller car. The cars themselves are pretty well covered in fresh vines.
It was the shortest day of the year and I was eyeing the sun sinking toward the hills to the west, so we didn't linger too long before heading back. If we'd started earlier, I might have taken her a bit further north to what I call the motorcycle graveyard. But I didn't want to risk picking our way through this mess in declining light. We went home and made spritz cookies instead. Happy holidays!
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