Sunday, September 7, 2014

Goose Creek State Park

August 16, 2014

Goose Creek State Park lies on the banks of the Pamlico River about 30 miles east of Greenville. I was drawn to this park because a circuit hike of all the park’s trails would give me a solid afternoon of hiking 8-10 miles. Like most state parks in NC, the park was easy to find with Google Maps taking me right there and plenty of directional signs as I got closer. I parked at the main park office/ranger station just inside the park entrance. There is additional parking deeper inside the park for campers, swimmers, and people who want a different trail access point.

Since I do a lot of hiking alone, I make it a point to 1) let a friend or family member know where I’m going and when they can expect to hear from me when I’m done; and 2) “check in” at the ranger station if there is one. Many of the places I hike don’t have an official check in, but I feel like it’s a good habit to say “hi” so if something happens someone might remember seeing me. After getting seriously turned around on a hike earlier this year (do we have to call it “lost”?), it gives me a little peace of mind.

So after saying “hi” to the rangers and confirming this park doesn’t have a lot of un-blazed trails or logging roads to get turned around on, I headed off down the Palmetto Boardwalk. As the name implies, this trail is entirely an elevated boardwalk through marshland. I’ve loved cattails since I was a kid and there were plenty lining both sides of the trail. Wildlife finds included a pileated woodpecker and many turtles.

Palmetto Boardwalk


The trail terminates and you can choose to head down the Ivey Gut Trail or the Tar Kiln Trail. I turned right towards the Ivey Gut Trail. The Ivey Gut Trail is where I started to see deer galore. I saw more deer than people this day! The muddier sections of all the trails in the park were completely pock marked with deer hoof prints. I didn’t count, but I’d estimate seeing at least 30 deer.
Can you see the deer?
The Ivey Gut Trail leads to views of Goose Creek, where I saw several kayakers enjoying the tranquil waters.
Goose Creek

Kayaker on Goose Creek

 The trail eventually crosses a park road before terminating on Goose Creek Trail. As I wanted to see and hike the entire park, I turned right for an out-and-back section of the trail. This section of the trail passes near several tent camping sites. The end of the trail has several benches that provide a nice overlook of Goose Creek as it widens out to join the Pamlico River. It was a peaceful place to eat lunch.
Peaceful spot for lunch overlooking Goose Creek

Erosion revealing this tree's root system
 Heading back on the Goose Creek Trail, I took the side path to the Flatty Creek Trail, a less-than-one-mile side trail with more views of the Pamlico River. This section of the park has signage indicating the park is a National Natural Landmark.

After exiting the Flatty Creek Trail, I turned right to continue back on the Goose Creek Trail. The next couple of miles were a little boring, until a saw a group of wild turkeys (which I just learned is called a “rafter” of turkeys). Oh yeah, and a lot more deer… Goose Creek Trail eventually terminates near an access point for swimming in the Pamlico River. I skipped this turn off point and headed down the Live Oak Trail, a very short trail that takes you past a small cemetery dating to the 1880’s. Not much is known about the cemetery, but it is thought to be the resting place of victims of an infectious disease outbreak.

The Live Oak Trail takes you to the short Huckleberry trail, which takes you to the short Mallard Creek Trail. This aptly named trail terminates with overviews of Mallard Creek.
Mallard Creek
Heading back on Mallard Creek Trail, I intersected with the last trail of the day, the Tar Kiln Trail. This trail has sections that are heavily canopied with Spanish moss, and takes you past several old tar kilns. I liked the historic aspects of the trail, which made me remember learning as a child about the importance of naval stores to North Carolina’s history and how the Tar Heel State got its nick name.
Spanish moss on the Tar Kiln Trail
I was feeling a little warm and ragged on the last section of the Tar Kiln Trail. My GPS showed I was at about 8.5 miles, and also getting close to my original turnoff from the Palmetto Boardwalk. I was happy to get back there and didn’t dally as much heading back to the ranger station, as the sudden exit from the woods into the sunny and humid marsh was a bit unpleasant. Arriving back at the ranger station, I eagerly drank a deliciously cold Dr. Pepper from the vending machine before getting in the car to head home.

Summary: I liked this park. Well-marked trails are always appreciated. I had read an online review that said the ticks here were ridiculous, but my tick check at the end of the day was clear. Final mileage for the day was 9.2 miles, which took me about 3.5 hours.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hello there, old Blog

For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about reactivating the blog. I do a lot of hiking and really enjoy finding personal experiences on the internet of what to expect on a hike. How hard was the trail to find? What was the terrain like? How bad were the bugs? Did you see anything cool? So I’ve been thinking about blogging my hikes. There’s not much to “do” where I’m living in Eastern NC (other than going to the beach, which I do several times each week), so most weekends I get in the car and drive anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to find a hiking spot. My planned blog entries will focus on these day hikes. I’ve done several hikes since I first got the idea to blog about them, so those entries will be coming soon. I haven’t decided yet if I want to retroactively blog hikes I’ve done in the distant past. I may do that, but I’m leaning towards revisiting those sites and blogging about them afterwards. It will be fun to visit old places with a new purpose in mind!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


"Dude.... you need to update your blog!" -- anonymous

I know, I know. It's just that I've been trapped under a mountain of work and/or apathy for the last few months. Feel free to make your own assessment of the work:apathy ratio.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blogging Finals: Day 6

This morning’s cumulative Small Animal Medicine exam went pretty well. I thought most of the teachers did a good job of hitting the high points and avoiding the pure-memorization little factoids. It’s a huge weight to have off my shoulders; this exam has been a source of constant, low level stress for weeks! Tomorrow’s exam is in Lab Animal and Special Species Medicine; it covers avian medicine and the care of orphaned wildlife. I feel pretty good about this exam. Volunteering at the Carolina Raptor Center for several years, plus having previously taken an avian medicine selective, has prepared me quite well. Most of the material is a review for me. As such, it’s been a very relaxing day. It’s been difficult to not go ahead and get started on the post-exams celebrations! But I can wait and I will wait: tomorrow is going to be awesome!

I am really enjoying this warm weather! The cats are, too. They spent most of the day hanging out on the porch. There are definitely some things we miss about Texas – warm winters are a big one! We’ll keep enjoying the mild days for as long as they last here. I know the cold weather snuggling will be here soon enough…
How I'll know when it's time to turn the heat on.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blogging Finals: Days 3-5

My equine medicine exam was on Saturday morning. My current inability to recall anything for more than 1 minute after learning it hurt me a bit, but I was so happy to be done with horses that I didn’t really care. I left the exam to find a voice mail message from my sister-in-law, inviting me over for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner. Since they live an hour and half away and I was in the middle of finals, my acceptance was kind of a surprise to all of us.

Hanging out with this kid instead of studying? Heck yeah!

I had a productive studying afternoon so I headed out to the Stell mini-farm feeling pretty guilt-free. Dinner was delicious and it was great to see everyone. I ate a lot and drank a lot, played with my niece, looked at stars with my brother’s telescope, chased chickens around the backyard, and helped my sister-in-law treat a cut on her horse’s leg. Who would have thought that on the same day I said goodbye to equine medicine, I would be doing a little equine medicine?!

I stayed up late and slept late, and I was reluctant to leave on Sunday morning. But I had to get back home and back to studying! Sadly, I did more napping and watching football than I did studying, so I went to bed early so I could get up early on Monday morning to finish studying for the Tox exam.

Monday morning Toxicology exam: The exam was fine, although I struggled a little to recall some facts. It’s amazing how quickly memorization-heavy material vacates your brain in times like these. (ETA: Our professor already graded our exams! What a shining example of the way things should be done, especially in a semester where most of our exams haven’t come back to us for 2-3 weeks!)

Since the Monday afternoon exam was open book, I spent the time in between exams studying for tomorrow’s Small Animal Medicine exam. Except I fell asleep about 30 minutes into it… I suffer from Studying-Induced Narcolepsy Syndrome (SINS).

Monday afternoon Exotic & Emerging Diseases exam: took 1.5 hours, which is 50-100% more time than I’ve spent on all the other exams in much higher credit hour classes. And it didn’t take long because it was open book: all the answers were easy to find. Really, really should have been a take-home exam. Instead, it pretty much ruined my whole afternoon, the day before my biggest exam.

I’m not very good at evening studying. My brain just works better in the morning. I don’t feel like mastering the details for tomorrow’s exam. I’m not sure I could, even if I wanted to – that whole “brain is full” feeling is really kicking in right about now. Since the exam is cumulative and is on material I actually really care about, I already know enough to do pretty well. If I could just get those last few items stashed somewhere safe in my brain…. damn broken Memorizer! It looks like it’s turning into another Netflix/early bedtime/get up early to cram kind of thing…

Friday, November 18, 2011

Blogging Finals: Day 2

Today’s exam was in Theriogenology (basically, that’s reproductive medicine for all you non-vet/animal science folks). This has been my least favorite class this semester – probably my least favorite class in all of vet school. Of course that’s easy to say with some of the stinkers of the past a distant memory… The exam went fine. I’m happy it is over. I’m thrilled to pack those notes away forever! Except for studying for those sneaky Therio questions on boards next year…
I do not care how to get you pregnant.

The results of all those theriogenologists' hard work are pretty cute, though.

It’s been an exceptionally unproductive studying day so far. And I’m okay with that.