After over a month of cold rain, the sun has finally decided to reappear in our neck of the woods. What better way to celebrate than with a January hike?
It rained into the early morning, but the clouds were skedaddling by the time I got out of bed. I poured a cup of coffee and stood at the window in my jammies. The usual morning traffic was pounding down the road, drivers seemingly oblivious to the promising sunshine. I couldn’t bear to listen for long. My hiking boots were calling!
A short while later, I parked my car amongst a bevy of others in a gravel parking lot. Seeing so many of them was a testament to the innate need of human beings to go to nature after a long period of self-imposed captivity. Proof that man cannot thrive on media entertainment alone.
The call of the wide open space beckoned.
I grabbed my walking stick, locked the car, and proceeded to the trail head.
We are very fortunate to have one of the largest city parks in the nation at our back door, 3670 acres of open space available for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, and most other outdoor sport. I often walk in the part of the park that is close to downtown. But today was perfect for a walk along the trails in the canyon.
The grass was transitioning from it’s normal golden color to the verdant green which is only seen during the short months of spring. By May it will change back again. It’s always a treat to the eye to see so much green. In fact, even though I grew up in the East, it amazes me today to fly over a city that has an abundance of green around it. I’ve grown accustomed to the West’s golden fields.
It didn’t take long until I found the first object of my quest. I stopped and listened with pleasure. Birds! Multiple species, from the sounds coming out of the leafless trees. I’m not an expert birder, but I’m pretty sure I heard goldfinches. And jays. And was that a mockingbird?
Sometimes you don’t know how much you miss something until it’s gone.
Thankfully, bird song is something that isn’t gone forever.
The trail was muddy. My boots squished and splashed through puddles, but I didn’t care. In many places, little creeks gurgled down or across the trail. The splashing water played multiple medleys along my way.
Eventually I passed Horseshoe Pond. Long ago, before the kids were born, Shujin and I used to come here for walks around the pond as part of our weekly exercise. There wasn’t much here at the time, just a building for the local gun club and the pond. We’d bring a trash bag and, during the walk, we collected bits of garbage that was left by kids that came here to hang out. It was our personal contribution to community service. Since then, the city improved the area by strengthening levies, building a public parking lot, and adding benches and a fishing platform. Including trash cans. Good improvements.
The pond was full to overflowing from all of the recent rain.
Up over the hill, past Monkey Face Rock, I continued on my hike.
Turning left here, going straight there, I followed various trails to stay in the valley, heading gradually to the creek. And, about forty minutes later, I found it.
It, too, was full to overflowing, and moving very rapidly. What a beautiful sound!
I spent a short while just watching it, breathing in the faint but lovely scent of warming wet earth.
After another fifteen minutes continuing along this path, my stomach started to rumble.
It was almost noon. I had forgotten to eat before I left and didn’t bring anything with me. Not that I was worried about missing a meal; the subtle reminder of my daily routine brought me to the thought that, having not hiked in several months, it was not a good idea to go more than a couple of miles on this one.
Regretfully, I turned back the way I came.
This time, I took another trail around the pond. Some Canadian geese were having a picnic on the shore. In either case, I didn’t relish the thought of defending myself with my walking stick. I carefully avoided getting close.
Geese can get very mean, and I didn’t know if these were truly wild, or have been living at the pond and accustomed to people.
A little further long I met a hen and her three male mallards.
I knew exactly what she was thinking, having a husband and two grown sons of my own. I love you all, but sometimes I need some space, guys!
Two hours of a day never flew by so fast. Eventually, I returned to my car. I could tell it was a good hike by the state of my boots.
Can’t wait to get them this dirty again!