For once, I beat Caren Jew to a run! I miscalculate the distance to Black Rock Mill and arrive 20 minutes early; Caren is only 7 minutes ahead of our planned 6am start. But heavy clouds make it a dark dawn, so instead of scrambling up the steep hillside we walk briskly up Black Rock Rd and, by the time we reach the top, it's light enough to join the trail at the Button Farm entrance gate. We follow the usual big white-yellow-orange loop, clearing overnight spiderwebs with our faces until a couple of mountain bikers pass us and begin to take on that task. A rooster crows in the distance.
Light showers drift through, and though temperatures are in the low-to-mid 70s humidity is high and I'm soon sweat-soaked. Intermittent breezes help. The corn is high, the soybeans are thick, and when I step off the trail for a moment to contemplate nature I have to avoid poison ivy. Big roll-bales of hay are oddly in the woods by the path, perhaps having tumbled downslope from the fields above? A deer near the cellphone tower flees as we approach. Caren glimpses a large noisy bird, and points out the bicycle in the tree that marks where the side trail branches back down to our starting point. But today we continue along—running up a hill after a fast youngster races past us—to exit where we entered and add a mile to the day.