Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Let's Take a LONG Walk Around Fort Campbell's Clarksville Base Trail: Nature's Paradise
I was first introduced to Fort Campbell's Clarksville Base upon being stationed here in August 2001. My unit was located in a historical building above the trail I call Clarksville Base Walking Trail. The trail is not really named that but it is what I choose to call it. My introduction to this trail was by way of running in my semi annual physical fitness tests. We had a measured one mile course on the trail. We ran up one mile then back one mile. After I retired from the Army I swore I would never run again! Now I walk the trail or sometimes jog it a bit. I also became intimately familiar with all of the nooks and crannies of the trail when I had to complete the annual twelve mile road march. The twelve mile road march took us around the 4.5 mile trail twice and along another part of the intersecting trails as well. While the road march was memorable for the pain and torture of the walk; it also endeared me to the Clarksville Base Walking Trail so much that even today, more than ten years later, I still walk this trail as frequently as I can. But I promise you it is not in boots with a weapon and rucksack on my back!
Les at A Tidewater Gardener has challenged bloggers to take a walk and to post about it. I am somewhat breaking the rules (okay, I'm breaking the rules) because Les says to leave your house and walk around and share what you see within walking distance of your home but without showing anything from your garden. While I can walk near my house it would mean walking on a busy highway. I would be taking a risk with my life walking on this highway and in all the years I have lived in this house I can honestly say I have never taken a walk near my home. My go to walking trail is the Clarksville Base walking trail. Not only is the trail safe from traffic (it is open to cars but only a small portion of the trail is a road that is traveled regularly) but it is a known distance and is so familiar and loved by me that I can't imagine ever walking anywhere else. I hope he forgives me for breaking that rule.
I will be posting my walk off in two different posts. I am sure I took over 100 photographs of my walk last Tuesday so they will not all fit in one post. The trail is 4.5 miles long and I can normally complete the walk in about one hour and thirty five minutes. On this date it took me two hours and thirty five minutes. That meant I was sight seeing for an hour! I normally don't do this but there was a lot to see on my walk off. I try to walk the trail weekly. Sometimes life gets in the way and I can't make it much to my chagrin. I feel like Clarksville Base is my 'lifeline'. Without walking and the peace I get from walking I feel my muscles will just atrophy and hurt and I will no longer be able to walk. No matter how much heavy gardening I do it never has the same effect on my body as walking does. I rue the day when I can no longer walk my weekly 4.5 mile trail. Ten years ago I could do the trail in less than an hour. Getting old is .....well, you know. I will take you on a walk with my pictures in the exact chronological order they were taken. I will try to talk you through the trail. Clarksville Base has always garnered a great deal of interest on this blog so even though many of you might not like the discourse, many more of you will savor each word as we walk along. Enjoy.
The one portion of the trail that has regular traffic is from the starting point to about the one mile mark. The trail starts at the water treatment plant, crosses a stream, turns a bend then forks to the left or you can go straight ahead. I always take that path less traveled-the road that goes straight. If I stayed left I would wind up at the Ammunition Supply Point (ASP). Almost all traffic on this section of the trail is going to the ASP. Taking the straight ahead road usually means anyone who is traveling on this road is either sightseeing, training with military vehicles, or just cruising around. The pace is less sedate and generally safe from heavy traffic.
I start our walk not at the starting point (though you will see it Friday on Part II of our walk) but on the bridge a short distance from the starting point. The bridge crosses the above stream and is a beautiful sight. On the day I walked the trail workers were busy replacing the guardrail along this bridge. It was quite a large and messy job.
Under the bridge near the starting point there are pipes. I know not what the pipes carry but a few years ago workers installed the pipes. It was a huge job and traffic was actually diverted from the bridge. Cars, trucks, and military vehicles had to navigate the back walking area. Traffic was so bad that the Military Police once stopped me on my walk and informed me the trail was closed to walking traffic. I was distressed but adapted. Soon the job was complete and I was right back on my trail. It doesn't matter to me if the temperature is below freezing, the wind is howling, or that tornadoes are anticipated. Still, I walk my trail. I do not, however, normally walk in the rain.
Back to the bridge. Below this bridge are thousands of wildflowers. The largest patch of Virginia Bluebells I have ever seen grows in this area near the stream. Can you see the fallen tree in the above picture? We have had a lot of storms in our area and this tree somehow fell victim to the winds. Many trees fall in the natural area surrounding the trail. In part two of this walk you will see a tree that fell and took half of the hillside with it.
The walking trail surrounds a basin. I walk the trail clockwise. Looking at the above picture you can see the terrain on my left slopes up to heavily wooded areas. The right side of the road is the basin. Within this basin are numerous wetlands. Once, in 2001, I saw nearly this whole area flooded. I have never seen it with so much water since. There are many streams, bogs, and ponds within this area. We shall soon see some of the inhabitants of this natural area as well.
I was stunned on my walk by all the spicebushes (Lindera benzoin) that were blooming here. I have never ever noticed them before. I do have a spicebush growing in my garden so I immediately knew what it was. I always enjoy seeing natives growing in their natural habitat and try to duplicate that habitat in my own garden. The spicebush here were prevalent along the road and on the hills.
The blooms were stunning. I wish I could tell the difference between a female and male spicebush. The nursery where I purchased mine did not sex the bushes and I have no idea what kind I have. You need to have both a female and male if you wish to get the bright red berries on the female in the fall. A goal of mine is to figure out which one I need in order to get those berries.
I believe this is a cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata). It was growing very near to the road and just below several spicebushes. I had to be careful where I stepped. Wildflowers are often so diminutive that they don't show up easily.
I am pretty sure this is Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica). It grew all along the flat ground near a hill that contained millions of trout lilies. I think the trout lilies were of the yellow variety (Erythronium americanum) but they were not in bloom at the time of my walk so I cannot be sure.
This is but a small number of the trout lilies located on a steep 15 foot hill near a bunker. The Spring Beauties grew at the base of the hill. Another tip to me of how to grow both of these beautiful native wildflowers.
A little further down the road from the wildflowers and bunkers is part of the stream system. I am not sure how all of the waters connect but I do know they do. I had to take a detour down to this stream on an overgrown drive. I did not expect to see what I saw but was astonished. As I approached the waterway several wood ducks flew away. Once I regained my composure I realized there were a couple dozen turtles softly plunking into the water upon my approach. Once I finally made it down to the stream I quietly peeked through the trees to see if any of the wildlife was still around. And yes there was! Two Canadian geese and a turtle seemed to be okay with my presence. I spent quite a few minutes snapping photographs of these grand champions of waterways.
Perhaps this is the male Canadian goose? He seemed to stand tall and proud, ever wary.
This one sat sedately on a submerged log. It was only when I was preparing to leave that both geese decided to swim away. I thought they were the most beautiful creatures ever.
This turtle; which is probably a snapping turtle though I don't know, never budged from its perch on an old snag. It was taking in the sun on what would turn out to be a beautiful day.
This concludes part one of my Walk Off post. We are nearly half way through out walk. I will post the rest of the walk on Friday so be sure to come back and finish up our four and one half mile hike on Fort Campbell's best nature walk....
in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden