Upon the Trails

Outdoor Adventure Programmer


A gravel path weathered from time and footsteps winds underneath a leaning canopy of green.
Steam from the river rises through the underbrush, a silent waking breath from the water.
Each leaf, not harsh or overwhelming in its hue but simple, gently rustles in the warm breeze that carries the mist over the path.
The way before is almost covered completely in the translucent gray, a whimsical sight.
Slowly, without anxious thought, the first step is taken onto the path.

Light in the dark woods. Photo Douglas Crawford

Clump, clump, clump
Feet in thick hiking boots provide the rhythm of the woods.
Clump, clump, clump
The body sways with each step, arms swaying from side to side in time.
Clump, clump, clump
Mist dampens the face, hanging on each eyelash, coating the brow.
Clump, clump, clump
The gravel of the path lodged in the grooves of the shoe, hitchhiking down the path.
Clump, clump – crunch

Halt and look.
Glancing from side to side in the endless green, towards the edge of the path, where the thick cover of the oaks and the sycamores thin and the understory reached the path, it is there.
Auburn fur, distinct but not harsh among the green, freezes a few feet ahead.
Large, deep, dark brown eyes, almost black, stare down the path, actively weighing the choices to flee or continue grazing.
Each breath is shallow, as not to startle.
A fragile, gentle hoof
A steaming breath
Then a sudden bound into the forest on the other side of the path.
The fiery blur faded among the dense greenery as the hike continued on.

Deer cross the river at Prairie Oaks. Photo Mark Romesser

The journey trudged along the river bank.
A warm morning breeze glides across the murky waters, causing ripples over the lazy current.
Slowly, from under the mudded depths, a small green face, rising to meet the sweet breeze.
Eyes of orange upon a waterlogged face peer from the river, lazily sweeping the top of the water.
Bobbing under the surface, a wrinkled head drifts across the waves, stumbling onto a slick, warm, rock.
Dull claws connected to ancient paws clutch the slippery stone, stumbling into place, until comfortable in the bright gaze of the morning sun.

Snapping turtle in Ashton Pond at Blacklick Woods. Photo Barb McGilvray

The sun peaks above the trees.
The trail ahead now gleaming under the midmorning glare.
Misty dew drops fade into humidity, sweat furled upon a brow.
A landscape fully awake before, behind, and beyond the gravel path.
The Park is alive. Its creatures all around with the scuttering feet. Its lush trees rolling in the warm breeze. Its rivers wild with the summer current.
The Park is alive.
And one can only witness it upon the trail.

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