Last Tuesday I decided it was time to take another walk in Aiken’s Hitchcock Woods, and, this time, I would start at its Clark Road entrance. Although the day had started out a bit wet, by the afternoon the skies were what the weather-casters might describe as having “scattered clouds.” Considering the fact that the temperature was in the upper 80s, I really did not care if it rained or if it did not rain. When it is warm enough, a little rain can sometime be a good thing.
To get to Clark Road from the center of town (Richland at Laurens,) drive East on Richland for two blocks (to the second traffic light) and turn right on Chesterfield in front of Regions Bank. Chesterfield passes the county courthouse and continues past the ABBE (Aiken, Bamberg, Barnwell, Edgefield) Regional Library, where it morphs into Whiskey Road. Stay on Whiskey past Hopelands Gardens, the Green Boundary Club, the Fermata Club (pool and tennis) and a long stretch of Crepe Myrtle and other plantings next to the Palmetto Golf Course (est. 1892). At the end of the golf course you will see a Clarion Inn and Mariott on the left just before you get to the Fresh Market. At this point you will come to a traffic signal on Whiskey at Hitchcock Drive. (Should you find anything improper in the functioning of this light, you just might have to chalk it up to its location.) Turn right on Hitchcock Drive (between Bethlehem Lutheran Church and the Aiken Estates/Hitchcock Woods sign, the first picture of the “slide show,”) and proceed about two-tenths of a mile to Clark Road. Take Clark to the right and drive till it dead ends into Hitchcock Woods. Park wherever, so long as you don’t block the road or the driveway to the right and proceed on into the woods by the information kiosk and the map box to “Whitney Drive,” which borders the woods and will be the first leg of today’s walk.
“Whitney Drive” is a mostly gentle downhill slope that follows “Cuthbert Branch” down to the lower level of the woods. It had been a bit rainy early in the day, and there were a few slippery spots on the drive. One time I had to walk on the edge of the woods to avoid an area that would, undoubtedly, have left me on my, well, dirty and wet, at least, and sliding feet first. But for the rainy weather, it might have been an easy walk. Still, this was not enough of a problem to warrant any consideration of delay.
As a matter of fact, the wet weather did bring out some interesting fungi. One group of them was so striking I had to take a photo. Maybe a reader would be able to put a name on this very bright orange display.
There were quite a few things of note that caught my attention. Some butterflies were very attractive. Unfortunately, these butterflies, which might be described as a somewhat smaller and darker version of a monarch, would not pose for a picture. The ginger, though, did stay put and, I must admit, it was tempting. Had I owned the property, I probably would have availed myself of a bit of root. Removing anything from the property is not allowed, though, which is how a protected habitat should be. There used to be quite a bit more wintergreen around the City’s Carolina Bay than there is now. There also was a very large faerie ring of what I have been told was a very edible mushroom. The ring vanished one day. It has not recovered. Hopefully those of us who enjoy our walks in the woods will resist any temptation to take from it.
Today’s walk did allow me to see one thing the likes of which I had seen before in the woods, but that had been lost to a woods management operation (my guess.) If there are any birders among our readers, they will want to see what I found and photographed in the slide show. They also might want to share this with their birder friends.
If you enjoyed the slides, your virtual walk in the woods, just think how much more you might enjoy the real thing. Today’s walk took me about an hour and a half and was a bit under two and a half miles long. While I’m walking, I find politics and other seemingly pressing cares of the day take a hike, too, which is OK, so long as they don’t come along with me. If you’d like to tell Chris Matthews [mailto: email@example.com ] or Bill O’Reilly [mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org] to take a hike, why not forward them a copy of this article. Who knows, they just might thank you for it just as I would like to thank you for visiting Examiner.com.