Knee Surgery and TicksI decided to get out of the house yesterday and test my knee. I've hardly been anywhere since the surgery, so I needed to work my muscles a bit. The hike went okay. I chose to go to the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness which is about 60 miles from my door. I'd never visited the place so I thought it would be interesting and as they are very low mountains, that it would also be easy on my knee.
What I didn't count on is the fact that ALL of my muscles are out of shape due to the fact that I've gotten little exercise over the past few weeks. I hiked about seven miles and while there were only some moderate ups and downs on the hike, I was exhausted and sore when I returned to my truck.
As for other wildlife, I saw a single white-tailed deer and an indigo
The Birkhead Mountains Wilderness is made up of a bit over 5,000 acres of second growth forest. There are no old trees there, as this was all a working farm/plantation in recent history. Most of it was owned by a single family in whose name these old "mountains" were named. And they're not much in the way of mountains. The highest peak in there is just a whisker over 1,000 feet in elevation and only a few of the peaks rise as much as 600 feet above the Piedmont. But, as they're the oldest range of summits in the USA, I will cut them some slack and refer to them as mountains.
They're composed mainly of rhyolite which is a metamorphic rock of igneous origin. Apparently at one time these mountains were volcanic. Ryholite resembles flint and is easily worked and holds an amazing edge. I looked around in some cleared fields for arrowheads or other Native American tools, but found nothing. Not even worked chips or blanks. I also found a lot of quartz along the hike and sometimes quartz was used to make tools, but again I found no sign of worked quartz anywhere I looked. I know Indians must have lived here, but unlike the nearby Morrow Mountain, the signs of tool-making is not obvious wherever rock is exposed.
One thing that did surprise me about the wilderness is that there are large tracts of nice hardwood forests. It's not virgin forest, of course, and there are no really big trees, but the recovering habitat is pleasing to see. The bottomlands and the woods in the little canyons and coves are very nice. I'd like to go back in the winter and do some bushwhacking in there. But I wouldn't recommend it during the spring and summer. The tick population is just way out of control and I certainly don't want to emerge from these forests coated in these blood-sucking pests.
I had a good walk, but I realized by the time that I made it back to my truck how out of shape I've become. Fortunately, I haven't gained any weight since the surgery, but my muscles have atrophied to an alarming degree. I was exhausted and sore after the hike. But now I know that I can get out and start reconditioning the knee. More hikes are in the planning stages, and then it's back to work.
LinksBIRKHEAD MOUNTAIN WILDERNESSLINK TEXT HERE
Uwharrie National Forest Site for Birkhead Mountains.