Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bear Swamp Preserve - A short walk, and then more biking later

Several year ago, Holly and I took my daughters Katy and Theresa to the Bear Swamp Preserve, near Westerlo.  The place is renowned for its giant rhododendrons, many over 30' tall, and we were hoping to catch them in bloom.  When we arrived, the trail was flooded by beavers less than 100' from the parking area, so that trip was a bust, and we've never been back.

The rhododendrons usually bloom in early July, but with the unusual year we've had, I thought that just maybe they'd be a little early.  So I went to find out.

I first walked the short trail to the north of the road, which promised an overlook of the rhododendron swamp.  It was somewhat overgrown and neglected in spots, but did lead me to a pretty good overlook.  This would be a good dry place to see the rhododendrons in bloom, which they were not.  Will file this location away for a later trip sometime.

 Nearby was a memorial stone dedicated to those involved in creating this preserve.

After returning to the car, I set out to try the longer yellow trail on the south side of the road.  This was where we'd been stymied on that earlier trip.  Sure enough, the trail straight ahead was still flooded in about the same spot, and had a "Trail Closed" sign on it.  But just before that sign, yellow trail markers directed me off to the left, raising my hopes of a longer walk.  But it was not to be.  This trail was flooded as well, so I returned to the car.

Note the yellow trail marker on the tree just above center
Later on, tonight was our weekly SWC beer and pizza ride, this time from a host's camp on Galway Lake.  The weather was questionable, and we weren't sure we'd get it in, but planned to go regardless, for the socializing and just to enjoy the place on the lake.  As it turned out, the weather cooperated and the ride was on.  I chose the 19.4-mile hilly option, which got stretched to 23 miles when our group missed a turn, also adding some more hills. 

1,585 feet of total climbing
Then it was back to the hosts' camp for some delicious casseroles and beer to cap off the night.

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