Self portrait at Hagan-Stone Park
After a hefty week of work and quite a lot of personal struggles, a day with nature was in order. Without an oil change, and with my Quantitative Chemistry exam looming on Monday, I couldn’t go far from Elon, but luckily I found some very positive online reviews for Hagan-Stone Park near Greensboro. Some quick research revealed a very helpful park map that displays the hiking trails, and before too much of the morning had passed, I was off on an adventure.
Upon arriving, I was frustrated to find the Park Office closed, but a Community Yard sale was in progress in a nearby parking lot so I could hardly fault the park for not having someone also in the office. In lieu of a physical map, I snapped a few photos of the trail map displayed nearby. I decided upon the Chatfield trail, which overlaps with a number of other park trails, and spans approximately 3.5 miles.
Beyond hiking, the park offers a number of services including a campground, fishing ponds, biking and cross country trails, picnic shelters, a pool, several playgrounds and softball fields. I came across a number of families near the playgrounds and fishing ponds, and even several cross country runners taking advantage of the 5K and 8K routes. As I start training for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Raleigh on June 9th, I think I may have to make use of the trails. Although I only walked the 5K route (I would hardly risk running with a camera and tripod), it seemed like it would make for a very enjoyable route.
Particularly towards the beginning of the hike, I found a number of picture-perfect spots that only lacked a subject. Since Eric hadn’t been able to accompany me due to a great deal of make-up work (taking off two weeks for the upcoming Texas road trip is a great deal more difficult for those with a real job), I had no choice but to retrieve my tripod from the car and attempt self portraits using the timed setting on my DSLR. I do not have a remote – cord or wireless – to control the shutter remotely, and so the 10 second timer had to work for the day. The hassle provided a pretty solid argument for purchasing one in the near future – I hope there weren’t too many people observing my antics. A quick google search also revealed an app for Android which provides a DSLR remote. In any case, the timer did work and I’m perfectly pleased with the photos, it just may have been a bit more stream-lined and less of a hassle with a remote.
My favorite spots tended to be near the fishing ponds, and of course near patches wild flowers. Throughout the trail benches were strategically placed, and I took full advantage of them to just sit and sort out my thoughts. While I did see a number of families near the playgrounds and near campsites, there were large spans of time when I went without seeing a single person on the trail. I have to note that the trails themselves are well kept up, and clearly marked. Without the markers, it would be difficult to keep track of the correct path simply because so many of the shorter trails overlap with the longer Chatfield trail.
Considering the proximity to Greensboro and the ease of navigating to the park from the highway, Hagan Stone Park more than exceeded my hopes for a day away from Elon. I half expected the location of the park to take away from the feeling of being submersed in nature. The proximity of Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area to Raleigh, for example, is more than evident - the highway can be distinctly heard, and sometimes even seen, through the trees. The location of Hagan-Stone Park and its secluded trails were thus an unexpected combination and pleasant surprise that warrants many more trips in the future.
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