Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Confusion on the Bigfoot Trail

Several years ago, geocaching took me out to what I call the Bigfoot Trail — a scenic and secluded hiking trail through the marshes along Long Branch, a few miles north of Greensboro (see "Return to Bigfoot Country," "Bigfoot's Libary," "The Great Blue Heron Nursery"). When I came upon the trail for the first time, it was undeveloped — not much more than a deer path through the woods, and human beings, other than the occasional geocacher, were happily never present. More recently, this extensive area of land has been made into the Richardson-Taylor Nature Preserve, and the old Bigfoot trail has been extended by a couple of miles and augmented by a bike trail that roughly parallels and occasionally intersects it. The preserve encompasses one of the most primitive, undeveloped areas in Guilford County, and since it is one of Greensboro's vital watershed areas, I am glad it has been acquired by an organization that will preserve it rather than rape it. All too nearby, acres upon acres of pristine woodland have recently been clear-cut to make way for yet more hellishly ugly, overpriced, cookie-cutter houses in poorly planned subdivisions that are steadily destroying the very resources that allow Greensboro to maintain adequate water supplies. The dreaded urban sprawl, don't you know. I hate it beyond words.

For now, while the trail is still unfinished, there is plenty of nature to be seen out there with virtually no sign of human intrusion. Near the trailhead, there are the remains of several old tobacco barns, for this area along Plainfield Road, which runs east-west near Greensboro's northernmost city limits, was not all that long ago completely rural, the forests broken only by a few farms and tobacco fields. The geocaching is good out here, and I was lucky to have been able to experience this unspoiled area before the inevitable influx of less environmentally conscious hordes. Today's hike was after a new, well-conceived multistage cache that required solving a novel field puzzle that involved dynamos and circuit boards (GC5B09K; "The Box of Confusion — I Wonder"). Mr. Rob "Robgso" Isenhour and I put in a nice three-mile hike and were able to log geocaching smileys after solving the puzzle and finding the final stage.

Yeah, Bigfoot is still out there, and I hear he's kind of pissed that the trail is now called the Bill Craft Trail, which may be fitting enough, but for crying out loud, how could any sensible soul not call it "The Bigfoot Trail"? Well, whatever its official name, to some of us, it's always going to be the Bigfoot Trail, and that will be that.
Old Rodan and old tobacco barn near the trailhead
They have these newfangled bridges out on the trail now. Not back in the good ol' days; you just got your feet wet.

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