Coppertone and I didn't overdo New Year's Eve, so we were feel pretty good as we headed back to Buchli Station to hike the trails there. Our previous trip here involved something of a time crunch, so we could not complete the loop around the main bodies of ponds here which we resolved to do this time.
We were surprised to find the parking lot almost full but we managed to find an open slot. This time we elected to do a counter clockwise loop around the ponds. Although the recent rains made the ground a bit moist a couple of days of drier weather mostly made the paths free of mud. We only had to dance around a few mud puddles here and there.
The north and western portions of this loop are the rougher halfs of the journey. The northern segment is open with only a few trees and shrubs here and there. The western portion is more overgrown with the path looking for like singletrack and a healthy line of brush on our right side. In the spring and summer the growth here might be a bit much so I'd recommend long pants. It was cold today, so we were well prepared for that anyway.
Given the frequency of gunfire heard in the distance it was obviously still hunting season. What surprised us was to see a pair of hunters in the brush along the path. They managed to take take down a duck which fell into the water and their position was right in our path! We passed by them with a wave and a few pleasantries as they fetched one of their kayaks to go fetch the downed duck. Yes, the north and western stretches of the path around the pond are less frequented by walkers but it was still a surprise to see them this close, on it essentially, to a marked trail.
As the trail turns to the east the trail surface becomes wider with increasingly more gravel which meant no more mud worries for the remainder of the hike. Plenty of people with binoculars were on the gravel trails looking at all of the birds in the various ponds. Perhaps they were getting started on a big year. We got our hiking year off to a good start by logging over 5 miles on the flat terrain. We still have some more trail segments to map here, but perhaps we'll wait until hunting season is over.