I have shifted this hike out a week from July 14th to July 21st to better fit my schedule. I'm hoping that this shift to one week later works with most of you.
This walk with have two parts - PART 1: walking the Pott's Branch Trail (medium loop, 1.25 miles, easy) and the Oak Rock Trail (small loop, 0.6 miles, easy) that finishes up back at the parking lot. We'll take a shortcut between the two trails that will take off ~0.2 miles and provide a magical place to stop for 5-minutes of standing (or sitting) silence before we continue on. On Pott's Branch we'll focus on here/now; on Oak Rock we'll shift into gratitudes. When the end of the trail shifts to paved, we'll walk and talk the rest of the way in. I rediscovered these trails recently, and they seem to be very Shangri-La and with a lot less foot traffic than the other Umstead trails. Plan on 1.25 - 1.5 hours for this part of the meditation hike.
PART 2: When we finish Pott's Branch and Oak Rock, you'll have several choices. 1) Declare your walk "done" and head out, 2) Take a spur off of Pott's Branch to Big Lake to sit for a while, or 3) continue on with hiking Sal's Branch Trail (large loop, 2.75 miles, moderate). For those choosing Sal's Branch, plan on an additional 1.25 - 1.5 hours. We'll be walking clockwise, with :40 minutes of silence (a good time to ponder a question or ask for guidance), a quick stop at the Visitor Center (water, stretching, bathrooms), then we'll walk and talk the :20 minutes back to Big Lake/parking.
Since we're in the hot of summer, please be prepared. For this hike you'll need sturdy walking shoes (lots of mud), insect spray (lots of bugs), and water (lots of thirst). We'll be walking rain or shine, unless there's thunder and lightning or torrential rain.