I got to hike at the Carlton Reserve! Woohoo!
I thought I'd have to wait until next year but since my sister is the absolute best, she made the time in her very crazybusy getting ready to leave for Yellowstone schedule and late last week, we made the trek. It's actually not far from where I live, same town, off island but still relatively speaking, close by. She, on the other hand, had to drive about a half hour to get here, again, in the midst of doing ten thousand or so other things so I was both surprised and reallllly excited that we were able to get out there.
Now, Tim and I found the place nearly two weeks before so the directions had already faded a bit from my memory banks and I was only passengering, not driving. It's a different perspective, learning a route, when you are not the one behind the wheel of the car. But I reviewed the directions with Tim just before we left. It wasn't far, as I said, but we probably circumnavigated a particular roundabout twice before making the decisions which way we were supposed to turn. Thankfully it was the right call or we might still be out there somewhere, endlessly circling the roundabout, trying to figure it out.
Once we arrived at the trail head, we checked the big old map at the trail head and I took a picture of it for future reference, just in case. The paths are colour-coded which is nice and, after a little discussion, we decided which trail to take and headed out. Remember now, this is the first hike in this park and also the first big hike after eye surgery so it was every exciting for me. Instead of it being an absolute mystery, I could actually see what Joy was photographing. Butterflies, dragon flies, bees were not just visible to me but unmistakable. Awesome! We hiked and talked and snapped photos, like usual, loving the trail and the fact that other than one small group of trail bicyclers, we saw nobody else. NO crowds. Love that.
And then, the trail seemed to change. Hmmmm. Seemed odd, but we just shrugged. It wasn't a huge change and it would be hard to describe what felt different about it, honestly. But again, we've never been out there so perhaps that was just how it was. And the area was still gorgeous with plenty of photo op so we kept going. And then Joy noticed that the trail marker colours had changed. How on earth did we miss our turn? Weird. It seems that we are on a different trail now, but as best as we could remember, it was still one of the shorter trails. so we just thought, "How funny" and we kept going. And happysnappy taking so many wonderful photos and loving every minute of it.
There is something so peaceful and restoring about walking on dirt in a quiet place surrounded by green. We heard far more birds than we saw, which is almost always the case, and that's fine too. The forest is allowed it's mysteries. The air is better there, it smells so good. Cleaner, more fragrant, and it changes with every turn in the path. The smell of the soil is strong and I can always tell if there is water nearby too. Ponds and rivers have their own scents that stand out from the rest the birds change, the flora is different when water is nearby. Some parts of the trail are thick with trees and canopy and vines so it's cool and shady and other parts of open with shorter trees and shrubs and filled with sun. Some parts smell loamy and wet and the soil is rich and dark. Other parts are lighter and the soil is mostly sand and the greenery feels more fragile. We love the variety.
I seem to take a lot of pictures of flowers. Flowers hold still for me. Wildlife does not. Joy is in charge of photos of wildlife. She has an amazing talent for it.
To be fair, I'm only using the camera on the cell phone. Joy is able to get other things like the dragonflies and spiders and birds critters of every stripe with her real camera which is a really nice Nikkon. There are various lenses and smoke and mirrors and all sorts of magic tricks involved. Her photos always completely blow mine out of the water. But it's not a competition, it's a hobby we share. And I love that we have that in common.
So the trail kept going and therefore, we kept walking. And of course, we have no map other than the photo I took of it in the beginning. Hours sped by and, while at first we didn't notice eventually it seemed as if we had been walking a really long time. Finally I consulted the map photo and it....didn't help one darned bit. If you don't know where you actually are in the midst of more than 24,000 acres, well let's just say, that we had no point of reference. But, with few other options, we continued. We knew that eventually we would end up somewhere.
And since we were walking anyway, we kept taking photos too. When the trail bicyclers sped past we called out to them and asked if they knew how far ahead was the trail end. "We don't have any idea" they called back. It was their first time there too. Ok, we were getting thirsty. Make a note, Next time we will bring water. We know better, both of us. But we hate carrying a lot of heavy stuff. As it is, Joy is hauling a lot of camera equipment so we tend to just be thirsty and gulp loads of water after the fact. Bad habit I know. Then we were starting to get a little tired too, but there is just something so compelling about a curve in a trail. "Maybe we will take a break when we get to that curve up ahead" we promised each other. And after that curve and a few more great photos, there was another curve and another. You see the pattern emerging.
We promised each other that we when finally got out, every trail leads somewhere, right (?) we would treat ourselves to Dairy Queen. Seems like a fitting reward. And it spurred us onward. Finally, we got to a place that seemed, vaguely familiar to me. I jogged ahead to check it out. A few turns down the trail there it was, a marker!! I jogged back. "I found it" I claimed as triumphantly as the first person to strike gold in 1849 in California! 'Hurrah" we both cheered. But as we approached the final turn on the trail, we found a sentry. A gigantic bumblebee. No, I'm serious.
He crisscrossed the end of the trail back and forth like an insect soldier. This was the biggest bee either of us had ever seen. Back and forth he went. We stopped and watched. Primarily for Joy to get a photo of him. He would zigzag back and forth and back and forth across the end of the trail and then turn and speed toward us. At the last second he would sweep up and away from us and then just as quickly zoom back between us. We could hear the buzzzzzz as he flew, at top speed, directly in the middle of the space between us. It was wild! We stayed frozen in place, her camera at the ready. And she would hit that button, snappitysnapsnap, one photo quickly after the other at the exact right moment. Then I would hear, "Dang! It's blurry" as she checks the shot. The bee would resume his march back and forth for awhile as Joy made some minute adjustments to her camera. Then he would turn and come at us again, circle behind us and then zoooom between us once more, while she snapped quick shots. Over and again.
Eventually she got the shot she wanted, we waved goodbye to him and made that last turn off the trail and back down the path to the parking lot.
We did treat ourselves to Dairy Queen on the way home too. We had hiked for miles and took some really good photos. We both agreed that we totally deserved it. The last DQ of the season always tastes the best. It's always a little sad to know that it's the last hike together for a long time, but we have great memories to share and some pretty good photos too.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.