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After the long, cold winter we just made it out of, it feels like I had almost forgotten how amazing it feels being able to get out on the trails, away from society, away from all the stress. Tax season at work has been tolling on my body and mind, working 10 hour days, 6 days a week, barely enough time to recharge my internal battery. It has kept me away from my family for longer than I had wanted. It has taken up so much of the sunlight, especially before the Daylight Savings time change, which I believe that we need to just get rid of. I mean, let’s continue to adjust our clocks to make it easier for people in 1918 to tend their crops. Come on now!
It has been frustrating to leave for work when the sun peaks out and then leave work and it’s already dark. Maybe I will think about keeping a headlamp in my truck so I can still attempt the trails after work this time of year if I have any energy left to spare. Anywho, it’s just about over now. Tax season has winded down and they are about to lift the PTO freeze and the overtime requirement. Back to normal.
Last week, work ended up being so slow that I ended up giving in, and not staying the full ten hour day in order to enjoy the solace that a hike bestows upon my soul. I was feeling burnt out from the drudgery tax season subjects on me, and when the proposition to escape the confines of the office was opened up to me, I felt compulsory to acquiesce.
Trusty Alltrails.com came through yet again for me. Not just five miles from the silver triangle five-story penitentiary (or so it felt at the moment) was a sanctuary anticipating my arrival. Heritage Park in Farmington Hills, just off of Farmington Road, south of 11 Mile Road was the next adventure in my sites, and I was poised to tackle and tame it.
When I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed the sign for the trailhead was just in front of a historic home named Spicer House and the Nature Center right next to it. The trail veered south of the buildings and then curved west into the trees. The trail was paved, and based on my experience the prior week in Madison Heights, I was wary of another disappointing episode. The pavement led me to a wooden deck and shelter with picnic tables, but it was on the edge of a drop-off. Peering out over the railing, I could see dirt trails and loads of trees. A monumental smile drew upon my mug, and a feeling of jollification consumed me to the core.
In the wake of my moment of empirical revelry, I gathered myself and vacated the shelter to brave what lay ahead of me along this trail that I was now anxious to explore. The pavement ended at the shelter, and a dirt-covered path revealed itself, meandering again through the trees and down a decently steep decline. I could see the enormous hills all around me, however, I was still descending deeper and deeper into the heart of the earth. I swear that I could feel the force of gravity grow more intense with each step downward as I drew nearer to its core.
Once the trail leveled out, I noticed swampy areas on both sides of the path seeping over and onto my intended passage, making for a soft yet muddy exploit. It was at this point that I wished I had worn my hiking boots to work that day rather than my tennis shoes. Oh well. It was still reasonably chilly, so you could still see large sections of pooled water that still held a layer of ice on top, though not very thick. I grabbed a small rock from the ground and tossed it onto the ice which shattered immediately, creating extravagant designs in its wake.
I made sure that I remained on the outer trails, as I crossed a few forks with trails that would shorten my adventure, which I was not interested in doing at this time. I was taking quite a few photographs, wishing I had brought my gloves with me as I was beginning to feel the chill in my fingertips. At this very moment, I noticed something strange on a downed tree that was leaning against another. At the end of one of its limbs was a glove; same brand and size as the pair that I own, as if someone had left it there just for me. My hand was not that cold, and I didn’t want to make the other hand jealous since there was not anywhere in sight the missing glove to complete the pair. I left it for someone who needed it more than I.
There still were sparse amounts of snow on the ground, as the lion’s share had melted and assisted to raise the water levels, as well as allowing the grasses to grab some sunlight. I could feel that Spring was just around the corner, and I am thoroughly prepared. The trees were still bare, but the area was immersed in them that you couldn’t see very far, generating a nuance of isolation.
Further down the trail, it opened up in a spot that a large pool of water was over the trail where three paths emerged. Luckily, someone had laid down a wooden plank to allow passage to the direction I was intending. As I crossed the plank, I noticed a bridge up ahead that allowed passage over the small river. A rustling sound caused me to freeze and focus my sights on it. A brown figure emerged. It was a beautiful deer, about to cross the bridge. As I closed the gap between myself and the bridge, I noticed that it was not only the one but six deer; two on my side of the bridge and four others on the opposite side.
This was the perfect time to take a break from walking and lap up the delectation and tranquility of Mother Nature’s creatures. The thing that I truly love about these local trails is the fact that the fauna are used to people. They don’t spook easily and allow you to get close to them to see them up close and personal. I enjoy feeling like I can have conversations with them without scaring them off. Although, I also get the feeling that they know who I am, The Outdoor Soul, and they understand that I am not one to want to hurt them, and they find comfort in my presence, allowing me to get close.
After a good fifteen minute recess, it was time to continue the journey. This back part of the park was much more hilly than the front half, and the trail opened up a bit more, allowing the ability to see more of the land, hills, rocks, and creatures that inhabited this part of the park. Not very far along the trail, after the hills brought me back down, the river that I had crossed earlier on the small bridge really opened up, got quite a bit wider, and curved in a few spots, allowing for small rapids with the large rocks and fallen trees in the water. The sounds were music to my ears.
I was then approaching another bridge up ahead, a bit larger than the one I had witnessed earlier. I stopped for a moment to lean over the edge of this bridge and delight in the bubbling sounds of the babbling brook below with a few birds singing in the distance. I could also hear the rustling of dried leaves as some squirrels jumped and played.
Continuing on, the trail brought me back around, just before the smaller bridge from earlier where I enjoyed the company of the deer. Just on the other side, I had to cross the wooden plank over the water, and then make my way around the pool to the other path in order to roll on. This part of the trail wasn’t as open as the back part of the park, but I came upon a post with a trail that was not on my map on the Alltrails app. The post had the name of this trail called The Scout Trail.
I decided to be a little adventurous, and veer from my planned route. I was taking me back toward the river I had encountered earlier. However, on this side of the river, The Scout Trail brought me up close and personal with the rapids I had noticed from afar. I was also able to catch a few photos of some icicles hanging from a downed limb hanging over the water right at the top of one of the river drops. Continuing along Scout Trail, I ended up at a spot that I was unable to cross this time of year with the risen water levels. I tried to take a shortcut back toward the original trail, off the beaten path, but the wetlands stopped me in tracks. I was forced to double back on the same trail and return on my original planned route.
This had turned out to be quite the adventure. Not another human soul had crossed my path, besides in the parking lot where my adventure had begun. I loved the solitude. As I recommenced, there was a large incline that I had to overcome, and at the top, I realized that it was a sledding hill that I had climbed alongside. I also realized that I wasn’t far from the original parking lot and my truck. I was very pleased with this hike, and definitely will keep this one on my list to return with my wife and daughters, especially when it gets warmer and the trees fill in.
I will not forget Heritage Park in Farmington Hills; a tremendous follow-up to my prior week’s disappointing hike.