A Perfect Afternoon

The footbridge at the southern end of Trexler Nature Preserve

The footbridge at the southern end of Trexler Nature Preserve

Today we went for a walk in the Trexler Nature Preserve, up one side of Jordan Creek and down the other. The first leg was seemingly vertical, with several overlooks along the way.  Elk and bison were rumored to roam the fields below the overlook, but we didn’t see any. At the highest point, the trail opened out to a spectacular view. The panorama, and the accompanying breeze, were so wonderful that I didn’t even think about getting my camera out. I just stood there and took it all in.

Eventually we turned our feet to the trail once again, and at the bottom of the descent met up with the creek at the covered bridge. Here, people had set their lawn chairs in the middle of the stream, and a woman sat in one, with her bare feet in the shallow water. My own feet started to burn with envy.

We dawdled a bit in this area, talking to a photographer who was waiting for a wedding

Jordan Creek

Jordan Creek

party to arrive.  He said he hoped, by the end of the shoot, to have the entire party standing in the middle of the creek for a photo.  My feet were jealous, and wanted to stand in the creek, too. But I had my good hiking shoes on, and I didn’t want to go in the water without some sort of footwear, because you never know what may lurk in the eight-inch depths.

I crossed the foot bridge and struck up a conversation with a woman who had just walked out of the stream.  She was a professional hiker. She takes people on hikes throughout the preserve, and always, at some point, they end up creek-hiking. Upon hearing this, my feet began to whimper.

We continued down the trail and my dogs kept up barking about how hot they were and how what they needed, desperately, NOW, was a walk in the creek. Not NEXT to it, darn it, but IN it.

We went down to the edge and walked out on a flat rock. There we sat for a while, taking

Some rocks in the stream with a hidden surprise.

Some rocks in the stream with a hidden surprise.

photos of the water and rocks and sky and whatever we could find. Just as I was contemplating taking my shoes off, Jay said his back was telling him to start walking again.

We arrived back at the car, and my dogs laid out an ultimatum: put us in the water, or you’ll be sorry.  So I took off my shoes and socks. I briefly had mixed feelings about this.  I never walk barefoot outside. I have nothing against it, I just don’t do it. But my feet started to get excited, and I couldn’t let them down. They walked me down the embankment and stepped gingerly into the water. It was warm. That was nice. I had been concerned that a sudden shock of cold water would trigger a foot cramp. But, crampless, my feet took me into the creek and wandered around until they found a nice flat rock in the shade. I plunked myself down and stretched my legs so my feet could explore the bottom. My hands got jealous of all the attention, and dove in to examine the stones.

Tiger Swallowtail at the Trexler Nature Preserve Environmental Education Center

Tiger Swallowtail at the Trexler Nature Preserve Environmental Education Center

The stones were mostly shale, and many were quite flat on both sides, perfect for skipping. So I began picking them up, one by one, and skipping them across the water to see how many hops I could get. My record was four.

By and by a young man and his small daughter made their way down the bank and waded in. They meandered up and down the creek, and I carefully adjusted my aim as they passed to avoid hitting them with my skipping rocks. She asked many questions about the water. He answered them all, very patiently. They were having quality time.

I began to think of getting out, but I didn’t relish walking up the clay dirt bank and getting muddy feet. I stood at the bottom and carefully planned my ascent. If I step on the roots, and hop over to here, I won’t get too muddy. Up I went, and ended on the concrete slab under the picnic table.  I thought if I walked on the grass before my feet got too dry, the grass would wipe most of the dirt off. This worked, and I went to the car with my mostly dry feet  and reached for my shoes.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch at the thistle smorgasbord near the Trexler Nature Preserve Environmental Education Center

We drove out of the park and followed the road to the entrance to the Trexler Nature Preserve Environmental Education Center, which was closed, but friendly enough to let people in on foot after hours. As we took pictures of the flora and miniature fauna, I realized that my feet felt remarkably refreshed, better than they had felt in a long time.

There’s something rejuvenating about dipping your feet into a running stream on a hot day. This rejuvenation can’t be achieved in a tub, in a house. It only works if you are outside, on a perfect day, after a good walk. Next time I go to  Jordan Creek on a hot day I will bring  my water shoes, so I can take a long stroll IN the creek. That would be heavenly.

Gail Hunn ©2015