Along the Natchez Trace

Monday, May 28, 2012

Grand Old Man of Nature

Way back...  back in the dark ages of my life, probably before the invention of the wheel, I was a "stay-at-home-mom".  I read voraciously...  and most of the books I read were about nature, being outdoors, and living close to the land.  I read Thoreau...  I read books by John Muir and John Burroughs....  Aldo Leopold....  I read Edwin Way Teale......  Edward Abbey was one of my favorites.  The list goes on and on....

Shortly after I turned 30 I enrolled at the community college in the Recreation and Wildlife program.  I wanted to be a naturralist.  I thrived!  Entomology, Ornithology, Field Biology, Forestry....  I loved it!  

Since I was a "non-traditional" student (over 25 years of age) I could skip the required classes like English, Math etc and take only the classes I wanted.  I planned to pick those all up later.

Well, later never came. My life took some unexpected turns and I dropped out of college and got a full-time job which I ended up working at for 20 years.

My love of the outdoors never diminished.  Early 1982 I met Bill who also had a great love of nature and the outdoors.  It's no wonder we fit in so well as volunteers at National Wildlife Refuges.

We are currently visiting our daughter and family who live in the Hudson River Valley.  Yesterday Donna asked me if I'd like to hike to Slabsides, which is the cabin John Burroughs built in 1895. John Burroughs was a naturalist and an essayist.  He was a teacher as well, and eventually also a bank examiner.  But, he is best remembered because of his interest and influence as a conservationist.  He was friends with Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and John Muir...  all men who were aware of the need to preserve our land.

 That's me...  standing on the porch of Slabsides...

It's been so many years since I read about John Burroughs...  about the train excursions that he and his friends would take up the Hudson River to see what wildflowers were blooming or what birds had migrated, that it never occurred to me that this place would be only about 10 miles north of where my daughter lives now.

 Side view of the cabin John and his son Julius built in 1895...

The cabin is only open to the public once a year....  on John Burrough's birthday
So here's the peeping toms...   Bill & Donna looking in the window

The cabin and the land it's built on are now an Historical Site.  There are trails leading to some of the places that John Burroughs cherished....
 The swamp or bog has a boardwalk so you can easily walk across it....

 There are numerous waterfalls....  and with last night's rain, they are bountiful!

 A lot of water means a lot of wildlife...

  The ponds were still today...  we didn't see any birds...

 Donna and Glenn....  at the top of Julius Rock

 The flags were still blooming alongside the cabin...  gorgeous blue!

 We came across some wildlife...  including this little toad...

 The Squawroot was prolific here...  I hadn't seen squawroot in years!

 And this frog was at the edge of one of the ponds...

(Warning.... Snake ahead)

One of my favorites...  this 4' black snake seems to be the keeper of the cabin these days.

And here's Bill & me....  at the end of our hike.

John Burroughs died in 1921, but his legacy lives on in his writings and in his conservationist views.  He is known as "The Grand Old Man of Nature".  I felt in awe to be able to walk the paths that he once walked.  

I am so happy that our daughter and son-in-law took us on this adventure today.  Thank you, Donna and Glenn!

That's All For Today...


  1. How very cool! You should try to be back there on his birthday to see the inside of his home. Beautiful surroundings. :)

  2. Nice trip. Thanks for sharing. I didn't know flags were iris until I was an adult. Still flags to me; the Memorial Day flower.

  3. That is a great old cabin!! Looks like a beautiful walk!!

  4. Nice to have the boardwalk across the bog. Beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing. Love the blue irises.

  5. Wow, what a nice place to go for a hike. I read way too much and read many of the same books, I never took the college courses, although I thought about it. After reading about the many RV'ers that volunteer at the Wildlife Refuges, I think it is something that I may do.

  6. Aldo's thinking like a mountain is great... but based upon your readings (especially those of Abbey) you may now better understand by handle of Heyduke...

  7. Ah, the days before the wheel. Now, those were the good old days!

    Beautiful pictures and a beautiful place.

  8. What a wonderful place! Great photos. (After having seen pictures of you on your travels, I feel I should tell you that you are far more attractive than your head shot on the blog header. Maybe it's time to update that picture?)

  9. Nice to read a bit of history of John Burroughs and see where he actually hung out on occasion. Great photos of a nice looking area too.

  10. What a spectacular site for a man of nature; peaceful I imagine with nothing but the sound of nature's symphony.

  11. What a wonderful story and hike with beautiful scenery, thanks for sharing.

  12. I've read "The Wild Muir" and of course "Walden" by Thoreau. I'll have to look into those others that you mentioned. Gorgeous spot in the woods, but you can keep the snake!

  13. Nice excursion and very interesting cabin.

  14. Wow. What a grand nature tour. And that amazing

  15. I really like the photo of you and Bill on the bridge...nice!