Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Brief Visit to the Buttermilk Trail

The godawful summer heat and humidity of Richmond abated a bit today, so I decided to take a short hike along the Buttermilk Trail.

For those of you who know me as a Master of the Sedentary Arts this may seem out of character and, well, you would be right, but back in March my doctor (actually, my Nurse Practitioner--I haven't actually seen my doctor since 1997) warned me that my weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides were all alarmingly high, high enough that I had a couple of choices: take some proactive measures now or figure out what long-term care facility or place of interment might best suit my future needs.

Not to alarm anyone, but this was not quite the simple choice one might imagine; my life is not so great that prolonging it seems all that reasonable most days. However, the various advances in medical care have made it highly likely I would survive a heart attack, stroke, or aneurysm but be severely incapacitated in the process. Not an appealing prospect.

The short version: since March I have made major changes in my diet and activity level (sadly, there's nothing I can do about stress--my job reaches new levels of suckdom with each passing day and I'm kinda, sorta trapped there).

Which means I've been doing lots of walking. Hell, I even invested in a pair of hiking shoes, socks, and, Crom help me, a sun hat. For a would-be miser, that's commitment!

Anyway, after reading a bit in 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Richmond I figured it was worth checking out the Buttermilk portion of the Belle Isle, Northbank, Buttermilk Trail Loop since one of the access points (the south side of Boulevard Bridge) is pretty close to where I live (maybe 5 min. by car depending upon the gazillion traffic lights--park at Barker Field and rile up all the nice doggies--or approx. 50 min. by foot including time to cross the bridge while marveling at the gazillion orb-weavers eking out a meager existence high above the James).

Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I did take pics. Thanks for asking!

Look! Nature stuff!

For scale, the trail is about three feet across here.

A reminder that we're not in deep wilderness--
drainage from Riverside Drive just above us.

What's that up ahead? OMG!

A deer! In the city!

Rock outcroppings abounded.

Quick note: hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers all use this stretch.
For the most part, everyone I met (and I encountered a surprising
number of people) was very nice; however, the bikers tended to come
out of nowhere and zoom by without giving the suggested "Rider up!"
warning to pedestrians. I like to think this is where karma caught up
with 'em as they banged their be-helmeted heads.

Evidence of trail maintenance.

And it goes on and on and on, but I didn't.

Hot, sweaty, unshaven, and displaying a bit of semi-hipster douchbaggery with
sunglasses on a string, here I am at my turnaround point, an hour and a half along the trail.
Not shown: my lo-tech trekking pole, aka hiking stick--a wooden broom handle fitted with a rubber cane tip (see here). Hey, it's cheap, unpretentious, more in keeping with the Leave No Trace philosophy (carbide tips scar rock), and quite useful, though dorky.

Note to self: next time, take more water! Not that I was in danger of severe (or even moderate) dehydration, what with a residential roadway no more than a hundred feet away, but given how much I perspire even at a relatively mild 85° F. (see above), a quart canteen just didn't cut it.

Anyway, I had a lot of sweaty fun.

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