Sunday, October 14, 2007

Walking the Rail Trails

I thank all the inhabitants of the Black Lodge that my old hometown in Virginia's piedmont is still a largely undeveloped, lushly wooded area, as yet untouched by vermin who would simply bulldoze it, drop some hideous and utterly needless complex into it, and take their money and run. Anyone who knows me or follows my exploits pretty much knows that hiking the woods is one of my favorite pastimes, and it's especially meaningful back in my old hometown, which still retains much of the character it's had since long before I was born.

Today, I set out for a destination new to me: the Doe Run Trail, which is a series of trails on the land that borders the old DuPont plant site (where my dad worked for 30 years). DuPont is no longer there, but before the company closed down, it donated all that land to the city, which has taken the excellent step of putting in hiking trails. There are a number of trails in this area that have recently opened, and, eventually, they are destined to link up to create one long, scenic path, mostly bordering the Smith River through Henry County.

A portion of the Doe Run Trail goes along the old rail spur that went to DuPont. It runs through several miles of dense woodland, and is essentially the only sign of human habitation therein. Something about rail lines running through the forest has fascinated me since I was a little kid, and it was just damn cool to get out there and follow one for a ways today. There's a genuine sense of isolation out there, and the silence today struck me as profound. No sounds of animals, airplanes, traffic, breeze...anything (at least until the trail brought me close to the main road again). I had the Twin Peaks score playing in the car on the way to and from the trail, which was the perfect soundtrack for such an excursion.

I wish I had done a search on the Web before I went out there, though. I discovered that most of the trails around here are populated with geocaches, and an entry for the Doe Run Trail was made just today. People taking part in the activity leave hidden somewhere around the trail a container with a logbook and various other items, so that others, following latitude and longitude clues, can find them and add to the cache. I recognized a couple of clues on the Web site entry immediately, and it would have been neat to find the cache and add my name to the logbook. Next time...

And now, it's back to work on "Demon Jar."

8 comments:

David Niall Wilson said...

Demon Jar, huh? Sounds intriguing...

And I can't help but think there has to be something in geo-caching that would make for a good story. I had a new one whispered in my head while I was running this morning that I need to get bare-bones down for today...I'll tell you about it when you get down here.

D

Stephen Mark Rainey said...

I'm pretty much mulling over geocaching story ideas as we speak. ;)

--M

David Niall Wilson said...

What if someone was going to geo-caching sites and leaving body parts - or pages from a grimoire -- or....

Stewart Sternberg said...

Good luck on Demon Jar..let me know if you ever need feedback. I'll be happy to give any humble response.

As for geocaching. As juvenile as it sounds, I've been itching to give it a try. It's the appeal of looking for buried treasure. And David is right, the geocaching has possibilities as a plot mcguffin.

William Jones said...

I've encountered the "Demon Jar." It refuses to be opened, and no matter how much you gaze at it, the contents remain a mystery. Continued attempts to open it result in dropping it on your foot.

There are some geocaching spots in northern Michigan. I've never participated in one, but I'd bet finding a jar in the cache would be quite a surprise. I wonder if you're planning on using several such jars, and they are scattered around the country? -- no need to answer.

David, I like the pages of a grimoire left at sites. For the unsuspecting geocacher(?), it could be quite a problem.

Stephen Mark Rainey said...

Dave -- The possibilities are staggering. (Or might that just be the martini?)

Stewart -- Thanks for your offer of feedback; beware, I might actually attempt to bounce something off you (and it might hurt). ;)

William -- "unsuspecting" is the key. If I knew Dave had been there first, I might stay far, far away. ;)

David Niall Wilson said...

Hah, so he says, and yet he will venture into my lair come November...

Stephen Mark Rainey said...

That's because I've been forewarned. As have you. ;)

--M