Friday had been a great run, so Saturday I was hoping to go for four in a row. It didn’t work out that way, however. I’ve mentioned that I do freelance work – I’m in the middle of a project right now. Saturday, I ended up running all over town in search of materials.
It was a gorgeous summer day, one of those perfect days. I had packed my running gear just in case… but shopping for hours took all the zip out of my stride. I ended up driving from one corner of the city to the other, and by the end, I was in that dazed, overstimulated state that comes from too much shopping.
On my way home, I started thinking about what I could do. I knew I was in no shape to run, but I figured I could walk. And if I could walk, I could hike. I had been wanting to explore the park where I ran my first trail run, so when I got home I grabbed my long pants, my bug spray and my dog, and off we went. I have lots of photos to share!
A good, clear trail.
As I mentioned before, the starting trail at this park is pretty clear. However, it isn’t that long before it gets a little harder to find.
Not quite so clear.
It was a feast for the eyes. In addition to the greenery, there was a fair amount of wildlife around: robins, cardinals, crows and woodpeckers. I saw toads, a couple of big butterflies, and some rabbits. The wildflowers were beautifully in bloom: Queen Anne Lace, Joe Pye Weed, Black Eyed Susans, Shasta Daisies, Yarrow, Chicory and more. Unfortunately, the black flies were also out. It turned out to be a very, very good thing I had some high-powered bug spray with me.
While I see echinacea in gardens all the time, this was the first time I have seen them in the wild.
As you might expect, Hermes was in heaven. We walk every day, but I live in the heart of the city. Other than when we get up to the cabin, he doesn’t get out in the woods much. When we came to a small bench overlooking the river. I paused to take a couple of photos, but he just wanted to go, go, go!
That right there is one happy, happy dog. Look at that tail!
There is something about being out in the woods with a dog. Even though I had a GPS/Camera/Phone in my back pocket, fancy-schmancy biodegradable poop bags and super bug spray, I felt connected to my ancestral past. There is something particularly special about following a hound dog in the woods…
I felt very Southern at this moment.
Finally, the trail took us down to the river. Have I mentioned that it is a large river?
Seriously, a big river.
Looking in the other direction…
See? I told you.
Hermes had no problem heading right in to get a drink and look for fish.
C’mon in Mom! The water’s fine!
Somewhere right about here, the river reached up and grabbed my heart. I’ve lived fairly close to this river my whole life, but I can’t say I’ve ever thought about it much. Mostly, it is just another feature in my city that I drive by, or over. Lately though, I have been spending a lot more time beside it. I’ve now run in five different parks along this river. Each of the parks give a different portrait of her, but this one was different. As Hermes and I stood on the shore, I felt something in my heart give. It was akin to the feeling I have when I am at my cabin standing on my shoreline – my heart flooded with love.
This is the second time I have been overcome with emotion at this park. The first was on my first trail run, when suddenly I knew, this was one of the biggest reasons for learning to run at all – the joy of the trail run. Each of the parks where I run has a little nickname, but I can’t have 5 parks all called “River Park.” I’m naming this one “Flooded Heart Park,” in part for how it made me feel, and in part because all around me, I could see evidence of the flood from last spring. Evidence like this:
It might be hard to tell, but this is a walking bridge that has been completely moved off it’s spot. For now, while it is dry, the trail goes down through the creek bed.
It’s funny how certain places can spark emotion.
And just like that, the river owned a piece of my soul.
There were more surprises in store. Hermes and I kept going. We stopped by the water several times, headed down some side trails and checked out some animal tracks beside a stream. Then the trail looped back and headed into a grassy walking area. At the end was a picnic spot with a fire pit.
I had no idea places like this even existed within my city.
There was a couple of tables, stacked wood, and a pit ready to go. Not far away was another observation point – this time a deck that hung out over the river. I preferred the wild places, but I like knowing this is here.
I’ve always been drawn to birds, in particular, herons, but all birds are special to me.* As Hermes and I prepared to leave, there on the trail near the parking lot, I spied a woodpecker feather.
A sign or an invitation?
I can’t wait to go back.
* Note: I love all birds except for seagulls and Canada Geese. Those birds are mean.