The seeds for yesterday were planted years ago when I started following Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area on social media.
For at least three years I've noticed they occasionally host guided hikes throughout the park. They often have a theme like "tracking animals," "Winter Hiking Essentials" or something along those lines.
The past few months have been a total grind. Work has been extremely busy, our schedules at home have had us all over the place. Earlier this week I saw that the park scheduled a Ranger Guided Tour and I marked myself as "Interested" on their Facebook event page.
I assumed I'd have a snowball's chance in hell of going to this guided hike yet somehow the moon and the stars aligned for me on this one.
My plan was to go, get some exercise and collect reference materials for paintings. My work schedule opened up, our home calendar showed I was free so I took the afternoon off, drove up to the meeting location and enjoyed a 3.3 mile hike across moderately difficult terrain enjoying views I've never seen before.
All the while we learned a ton about Trail Blazes,
the history of the area, proper hiking preparation and land management around the country. We also gained some insight into the potential career paths for park employees and Rangers.
Trail blazes like the examples shown above are not common outside of the parks in the North Eastern United States. Here I thought they were common across the country...
Thankfully I managed to get some good reference photos and videos too.
All this and I still managed to get home and help make Friday night pizza for the family.
The Ranger took the time to highlight areas that may be great for Plein Air painting....
Can't help but think this scene may be my next painting. We shall see...