Middletown/Ashville wilds are basically closed up to me until October. Even moreso for Mythopolis: November. I’m stuck with Blue Mountain now in terms of off trail hiking. I’m going to try to extend this into May up here.
What closes them up? The heat for one thing. Wearing shorts is not an ideal situation for off trail (Blue Mountain has a lot of mountain nettles, for example). Gnats for another. And a big one: poison ivy/oak. This goes triple for Middletown. This goes triple times triple for Mythopolis. Up here the poison ivy is around but scarcer. There’s some in Whitehead Crossing, for example, but you can pick your way around it, especially if you have a rough idea of its location beforehand. Growing up in Mythopolis was quite different. There you’d have vast fields of nothing but poison ivy sometimes to deal with. That’s a huge plus for Blue Mountain even in comparison with Middletown, where the poison ivy situation is between the two.
Then we come to the wildlife critters, and I think especially here of snakes. Don’t want to step on a snake in the undergrowth. Now Blue Mtn. has it’s share of snakes for sure, but again Mythopolis trumps it, and Middletown, once more, lies between the two in terms of the risk of stumbling upon one of the feared creatures. When I lived in Durham I found that snakes were all over the place — no chance of practical off trail hiking during summer months atall. In Blue Mtn. — Whitehead X-ing once more — you can get away with it.
So: gnats, poison, snakes. That’s the big 3 in terms of living things. I suppose we should add mosquitoes in with gnats, but they’re not as everpresent.
Other critters I’m semi worried about are bears, but I’ve only run across one in all my hiking days, and I encountered him/her on a designated hiking trail. This is one reason I don’t do a lot of off trail hiking at Granddaddy Mtn. Another is conservancy issues. Bees/hornets are also something to think about, especially ground nests. Wolves/coyotes are around; foxes. And I’ve found what is most likely a skunk hole recently at Drink Lake that I need to avoid in the future. Raccoons might be worth pondering.
The woods are just a more dangerous place in warmer weather. The now foliated trees do not allow rocks to dry as quickly, raising chances of slipping on them when wet. And heavy rain, often unforecasted, comes more frequently in the summer.
And so I don’t accomplish a lot of off trail hiking even in relatively safer Blue Mountain. Now *England* might be different. There’s not many snakes. There is *no poison ivy/oak*. The heat is much less of a problem, and I assume the gnats and skeeters as well. England would be *ideal* for summer, intra-woods hiking. If you had enough woods.
And that’s where the advantage shifts to Blue Mountain, once more. Blue Mtn. has woods in spades. Whitehead Crossing is still a center.