While I loved Italy and Sicily, I did long to return to my hikes on my favorite trails in Maryland and Virginia. I did my usual dawn hike this morning on Billy Goat trail and it was glorious with the leaves changing and the crisp autumn wind.
The only downside was that there is a group of hikers who also do the early Sunday hike and speak Chinese on Billy Goat. It is a common problem on trails for regular hikers with noisy people but this group is particularly vocal. I do not know if they are a club but they are exceptionally loud. The result is that you have to chose between rushing ahead (and not enjoying the trail) or waiting to let them pass and never see another animal in their wake. Some folks view the 4-5 mile circle as just another workout course as they speed through the trail while talking loudly. Others, like myself, value the trail as a way to enjoying the sounds and smells of a natural place — running along the Potomac river.
It is a classic conflict on trails of course. Today was particularly frustrating because I had come up a rare sight on this trail of two bucks locking horns in a playful challenge. While I pointed to the deer to try to get them to just stop chattering but they just continued and never even slowed to see the extraordinary animals on the side of the trail. Instead, they scared off the two bucks. It is a shame because they could have seen a truly incredible moment. Honestly, if you just slow down and listen to these trails, you will get both a satisfying workout and a unique experience.
Once the group had passed ahead, the forest returned to relative quiet and it was a wonderful welcome home. Here are a few pictures from Billy Goat trail at dawn: