Date: July 23, 2016
Distance hiked: 5 km // 3.12 mi
Steps taken: 7, 868
Time on the trail: ~1.75 hours
Calories burned: 704
Fuel consumed: 1 fruit bar, ~500 mL water
Wildlife spotted: the usual squirrels, chipmunks, birds, etc.
Today I finally made the trip over to the Rock Dunder hiking trails! I have been wanting to get there all summer, and I’m so glad I finally made the decision to go. This is a very popular local hiking spot, and the parking lot was fairly packed when I arrived. The severe thunderstorm watch in effect didn’t seem to be acting as a deterrent to anyone (including myself!). I decided to switch out my usual Gossamer Gear Mariposa for a much smaller day pack, and my usual hiking outfit of convertible pants and t-shirt for shorts and a tank top. With my pared down gear and clothing, it almost felt like I was participating in “hike naked day” (which officially occurs on June 21, if you were wondering).
Rock wall seen along the trail
I wanted to take this afternoon to really just soak up some nature, rather than focusing on the “training” aspect of a weekend hike, which is part of why I left a lot of gear behind. I didn’t fret about the fact that my total mileage for the day was a measly 3 miles. I didn’t try to push for speed. I simply walked through the woods, breathing the fresh air and soaking it all in. It was lovely.
Rocky and rooty trail (this was the easy stuff)
I started with the Morton Bay Loop, which starts out with a fairly easy walk through a mixed forest, but gets more difficult as it progresses. It quickly reaches the water, and I was treated to many glimpses of the lake through the trees. At one point, I came across a group swimming off some rocks, and found myself insanely jealous. Next time I return, there will definitely be a swim in the cards.
The trail got more and more difficult as it transitioned into the Summit Loop. There were many steep slopes to scramble up, and the trail was extremely rooty and rocky. It was another scorcher of a day, so the sweat started pouring before too long. Thankfully, most of this part of the trail is in a nicely shaded forest, so it was a bit cooler. There was also a lovely breeze blowing a lot of the time, which felt incredible. The smell of sun-baked pine needles was also quite enjoyable.
Heading up the lookout!
The most demanding uphill climb lead to a high area of exposed rock, which is the location of Rock Dunder’s main attraction, the lookout. The views were pretty spectacular, and I took a brief break to eat a snack and take some fun photos. It was HOT up there, but also fairly windy which helped to keep it from being too unbearable.
After thoroughly enjoying the lookout point, I continued along the Summit Loop as it turned back toward to the parking area. More of this section of the trail was out in the open along exposed rock, which was a nice change of scenery, although it certainly made for hot hiking. The trail passed a wetland area, and then entered back into the forest for the final stretch. I reached my car feeling quite joyful and wishing the trail was longer. I highly recommend this hike!
Trail lesson of the day: Sometimes it’s worth it to momentarily let go of pushing toward something, and just enjoy the journey and the moment.
Breathing in the last bit of forest before making it back to the car