As promised, Umstead photos!
This state park is very large (over 5500 acres!) so I saw only a small part of it. I drove in at the Reedy Creek entrance, off the 40 freeway. You could hear slight road noise most of the time, but otherwise the hike was awesome. I could not have asked for better weather: sunny with a gentle breeze, about 68 degrees. Warm enough to be in t-shirt sleeves, cool enough to avoid feeling the least bit of swelter--even though I was "glowing" by the end of the nearly two-hour trek. According to my calculations on Google Earth, it was about 2.8 miles.
Sounds like I practically crawled, but of course I spent a lot of time taking pictures! I was actually walking at a pretty fast clip, especially in the areas where there was gravel or pavement. I encountered maybe a dozen other people, a few with their dogs. I also spotted some fairly fresh horseshoe prints, but no equine sightings. The closest I came to observing the fauna was a very red cardinal who flitted away before I could get a shot (pictoral, of course!). You can see the full compliment of photos at Flickr, but here are a few of my favorites:
In totally unrelated news, check out what happens when you type in "life in North Carolina" at Google's blog search engine. Yours truly is the top result!! (As always, click for a larger view.)
Now, it's one thing to rank highly in a search engine dedicated to blogs. But on MSN's generic search engine, I rank #9, right after the Museum of Natural Science! Not too shabby.
2/10/06 Update: While checking on my ranking today, I noticed I am nowhere to be found on MSN's search engine. Oh well. Must've been a fluke.