Saturday, January 18, 2014

So Much Opportunity

Cherokee National Forest (C) SD
January.   A month of new beginnings, new commitments and new plans.  For many people it’s also a month of cold and dreary winter doldrums, but it doesn’t need to be.  January, for me, is a month when the days are becoming noticeably longer, the weather is hinting at a promise of spring, and the sweet kiss of nature taunts me.  January is a month of planning, all right; planning what big hikes are in the works for the upcoming season.
Being an outdoorsman (which, for the record, is what I see as the correct term for women as well as men) who uses “The Nature” for multiple reasons means that sometimes we have to plan.  Some local hikes are always easy to slip in to the agenda, but the more distant or longer duration hikes take a bit of planning.  With so much nature to explore and such a limited amount of time I have on our planet means that I can’t just run willy-nilly through hiking season.  Well, I mean I can… and it may even be entertaining… but let’s pretend I have more wherewithal than that, shall we?  Now, what were we talking about? 

Nantahala/Cherokee National (C) SD
So this year, where do we want to GO?  What do we want to SEE? Who should go?  WHEN should we go?  These are all important stage 1 questions.  Stage 2 questions (‘what types of flora and fauna do we need to learn about, what type of terrain do we need to prepare for, etc’) will follow.   For example, if I decide to hike in the Sundquist/Cumberland Wildlife Management Area, there’s elk to consider.   Yes, ELK.  Did you know there are elk in Tennessee?  Yeah, that’s a fun little fact that I didn’t know for a couple of years (38 years to be precise) either.   Another WMA in the same neck of the woods that interests me is Cove Creek.  I looks like it’s surrounded by water and could have some epic views.  

Are WMA’s used to hunt?  Sure.  But there’s so many uses for a WMA and I can’t wait to explore new areas, see new sights, and learn more about the land that I love so much.  The hardest part?  …where to go?! (Hey, that's your queue to leave comments below if you know somewhere I should visit and blog about!)

Stephanne Dennis is an outdoor enthusiast extraordinaire. A highly skilled backpacker and apex predator specialist, she shares her love of the outdoors with her unrivaled writing skills and her faithful companion, Bandit McKaye, her Anatolian Shepherd. She is currently studying Wildlife Biology at Oregon State University and dedicates her time and skills to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation.