Back in April of last year, we kicked off the SPINMO group by walking at Hemlock Bluffs on the Swift Creek Loop Trail (looping 3 times), but for this hike we'll start with the Swift Creek Loop trail (yes, looping 3 times), then continue on with the Beech Tree Cove and Chestnut Oak Loop trails.
The entire walk will be in silence, with different focuses along the way. The first loop of the Swift Creek trail we'll be using the two longer boardwalks for joyous sound (feet and hands only), rhythm and follow-the-leader change-ups ... somehow these just call for celebration in the realm of tap-dancing; for the second loop we'll shift into silence (I'm betting with a "glad heart" from the initial loop); then, with the final loop, we'll start into reflective thought based on the trail signage (taken from a metaphysical viewpoint and focusing on oneself (Oneself?) these signs are absolutely amazing). We'll keep with the silence and signage for the remaining two trails as well. On the trails, there are 6 different observation decks; we'll pause at all of these for several minutes of silence while we look out over the woods. More about all of this when we meet.
The first trail (Swift Creek Loop) has a long flight of stairs that we'll traverse - first down, then up. At the bottom of the stairs, the loop trail is relatively flat and well maintained. With 3 laps, and 2 lookout decks we'll be hiking about 55 minutes (~ 2 miles) including ~10 minutes for the decks (standing in silence). We'll then continue on with the remaining two trails (Beech Tree Cove and Chestnut Oak) where we'll be hiking just over an hour (~ 2 miles) including ~20 minutes for the decks (standing in silence). These trails are fairly well maintained, with many up and down patches; and, 2 of the overlooks have moderate flights of stairs. Plan on about 2-1/2 hours (4 miles) for the entire walk, including journaling at the end.