After Work Hike

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As my day at work was coming to an end, sitting at my desk after almost 8 hours of staring at the computer screen and endless phone calls to dealer partners trying to wrap up month-end, I was on auto-pilot.  The day dragged endlessly.  I was in a zoned out state of mind, looking forward to having the next day off when I remembered that it was going to be full of hard labor in my home, finishing the demo of the upstairs, a trip or two to the dump, a trek to the hardware store for supplies, and beginning to frame out the room.  Uggh.

I was pining for some sunshine and a little adventure after the last couple days of rain and dreariness.  I remembered last week, finding that little nature preserve in Southfield, and was thinking about going back.  Instead, while I had a moment, Google found another preserve not that far out of the way of my usual drive home.  Lately, the traffic and construction on my drive to and from work had begun to take a toll on me.  I was aflutter to see an opportunity to unwind and get my mind off the accustomed daily grind.

Douglas Evans Nature Preserve was feverishly anticipating my arrival with open arms. Well, maybe its arms were crossed, since the gates to drive in were closed and chained. However, that was not going to stop me.  In Beverly Hills, Michigan, on Evergreen Road about half a mile north of 13 Mile Road, sits a quaint 18 acre stunning piece of property. I parked my truck on the side of the road right by the gated entrance, grabbed my phone for photos and a bottle of water, and embarked on a wonderful moment of solitude and musing.

I commenced a stroll across the bridge of the entrance sitting over The Rouge River.  The gravel drive into the preserve was wide enough for two vehicles with trees lining both sides, and up ahead within sight was a clearing with tall grass and wildflowers.  As I walked further, I noticed an opening in the trees, presenting a footpath off the main drive.  It was calling my name to explore it’s interior.  I could hear the sound of the river within the grove.  The adventurous Bob was eager to explore.

As I walked through, the river peeked it’s head from withing the trees, greeting me with a smile.  As I got closer to the running water, it’s serene voice began to drown out the sounds of the traffic and construction machinery, as if I was stepping into another world. I followed the footpath along the river’s edge, at times having to veer from the path at times to keep in view of the river for some amazing photo opportunities.  The hike through the woods was exuberant.  The only other living being inside those woods were squirrels, and I was okay with sharing this world with them at the moment.

After a while, I noticed an opening in the trees, allowing the sunlight to pass through a bit and highlight the tall grasses of the large field ahead of me.  The grasses were over 6 feet tall, as tall as I, but the footpath was still visible, only allowing myself to pass as the grasses caressed my arms as I wandered.  It was here that I noticed the Coneflowers and Black-Eyed Susans.  They were stunning, and left me speechless, even in my own mind. I continued walking along the path which brought me back into the woods further within the preserve.

This time, I came across a tee-pee like structure, obviously man-made with large downed branches and saplings.  This was very unexpected, but fascinating to come across.  After the photos, I crouched down and sat myself within the small wooden enclosure, took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and meditated for a moment.  I could hear that I was close to the river again, and wanted to see more.

The hike continued, and my curiosity got the better of me, as I noticed some downed trees creating a natural bridge across the river.  It wasn’t easy to jump to the tree, but luckily, I was able to stay dry and slowly beam-walk across to the other side.  A sense of accomplishment filled my body, and I celebrated my small feat.  Back across the downed tree, and back to the footpath to press on.

I came across a building that later revealed to be the Combined Sewer Overflow tank and control building, the only development that was granted in 1992 on this property.  I didn’t get a photo of it, but I briskly passed it and continued.  It seemed like an eternity had passed, but the time on my phone said otherwise.  I agreed with myself to go just a little bit further and then turn around.

Just a bit further, I noticed a tree laying across the footpath that had been chewed by a beaver.  The only thing is, it looked familiar to me.  After stopping in my own tracks and trying to recall where I had seen this, I grasped that I saw a tree just like this almost as soon as I ducked into the woods off the main drive just after the bridge at the entrance to the preserve.  The only difference was that this was fallen the opposite way of the other one.  After catching my ground and actually turning myself around, this was in fact the same tree, and I was astonishingly back where I began my adventure hike.  The opening out of the woods was just up the way, and I was back at the bridge.

How?!? I didn’t even realize that the path had taken me around and back again.  I, somehow, had lost my sense of direction.  I was okay with this, as I knew that I was in my element, nature, enjoying every moment of it.  All good things must come to an end, so I lifted my head, walked across the bridge, and tipped my (make believe) hat to the face of the raccoon on the sign at the entrance of Douglas Evans Nature Preserve.  I’ll be back.

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