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A Nature Hike
Posted on November 3, 2017
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks in our home. Birthday parties, construction, work, costumes, hay bales, candy, dogs, kids, Stranger Things. I needed some Vitamin N. After work, I sent a text to my wife since she was out and about with the kids. I told her that I was pining for some nature and had to get out for a hike. I was desperately in need of some fresh air, trees, the sweet soothing sounds of nature, animals, rocky trails, beautiful vistas, and some solitude.
Living in a metro area, it’s not like these things are everywhere you look, but they are around. I was able to do a little bit of searching online and found the West Bloomfield Woods Trail, only about a thirty minute drive from my work. Perfectamundo! This would give me at least a couple of hours to get my overdue fill of some outdoors. Traffic was ungodly heavy on the drive there, but I knew that I would be able to step into this quiet, pristine other world and get away from it all for the evening.
I found the parking lot at the West Bloomfield Woods Nature Preserve off of Pontiac Trail, just west of Orchard Lake Road, and was ready to enjoy my adventure. The trails within the 162 acre preserve only equate to just over two miles, but this was perfect for the amount of time I had before it got dark. That is one thing that I don’t enjoy about this time of year. I am not allotted very much time after work for my outdoor activities. However, being able to find trails like this one is absolutely perfect for this.
As I parked the truck, gathered my phone for photos and my water bottle, and stepped onto the trail, I felt the entirety of my being begin to almost float. The weights that usually weigh me down seemed to lift and drift away. I get this feeling every time I get outside and away from the hustle bustle that encompasses my normal everyday life. How do I get to the point of feeling this every day? This is the question that guides me.
When I searched for this trail online and found it on the Alltrails app, it stated that it was an easy trail, so I wasn’t really expecting too much. As I began on the trail, it was very flat, the trail was wide, and I could still see the electrical lines overhead. This wasn’t giving me much hope for really getting away. However, just about a quarter of a mile in, the path took a sharp right curve and dipped into the woods. It was like walking through the portal from the movie Stargate. As I stepped through, I was dropped into another world, quiet, beautiful, void of other human life. I was alone and completely in my element.
The path that lay ahead of me was no longer straight or flat. It was more rocky in parts and meandered down, and curved around the tall pines and dogwoods that covered the area. I could hear squirrels and chipmunks running and rustling through the fallen leaves brought on by the onset of autumn. As I began my adventure for the evening, not very far into the journey, I came across a wooden dock that stretched out over a wetland area.
It was stunning to see how the bright green duckweed blanketing the water. As I rested, leaning on the rail, taking in the beauty of it all, I noticed four ducks swimming. The designs they were making in the green waters were really neat. As I sat there watching them, time seemed to slip away as I was engrossed in their playfulness.
I continued down the trail and the feelings of nature really began to sink in. The further I ventured into the preserve, the more pacified I became. I began to feel as one with everything around me. I could feel my feet sink softly in the soil and in between each little rock or stone on the path. I could feel the wind blowing around softly and curve around the features of my face and neck. I could feel myself succumbing to the earth. Now, this is what I’m talking about.
Not very far up the trail, it came to a fork, I I had a choice of which path to take on this loop. However, before I had the chance to decide, I heard and noticed something move to my left. I slowed my pace dramatically and looked just about 25 feet off the trail and saw him. It was a deer, ever so delightfully snacking on grass or berries. His head lifted as I got closer and he turned to look at me. He was not frightened in even the slightest, and seemed to welcome me to his home.
As I was enjoying this moment, I heard something else behind me. I slowly turned, and saw 2 more fawn bucks on the other side of the trail. A small grin began to arise on my face as I began to name them. Moe was the first one I noticed, as he seemed to be leading the threesome. Of the other two, Larry was on the left, and Curly was a bit skittish and started hopping about. I could almost hear him…woob, woob, woob, woob, woob. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
If the youngsters reading this don’t understand where I got those names, I guess my age is beginning to show. Ask your parents…they’ll enlighten you about 3 of the most amazing television actors of all time.
I had to leave Larry, Moe, and Curly, as I needed to continue in order to complete the trail before the dark began to set in. I wanted more photos and to enjoy what was up ahead still. I continued ahead.
Not much further was a small footbridge over the Rouge River, which seemed to be only the size of a large stream in this area. It was still fostering an abundantly soothing sound as it slowly moved over the rocks and through the dried, fallen leaves from the trees above. After a few photos, I continued on, and the trail began to take me upward from this point.
I climbed the hills along the path and stumbled upon a man-made wooden platform on the edge of the hill, overlooking the heart of the valley, divided by the skinny Rouge River. The fall colors on the trees were filled with bright colors of yellow and orange. A crisp light fall breeze was pushing through the trees. It was the perfect moment to just take it all in and heartily revel in the season as well as this well-deserved time of solitude.
In the wake of the moment, I resumed my adventure, taking snaps of smaller wetland areas and ponds covered in bright green duckweed, listening to the sounds of the few birds that still have not headed out of town yet. I could hear the sounds of branches cracking and falling from the canopy overhead and lots of squirrels and other fuzzy creatures hiding in the leaf-covered grounds. The colors of fall seemed to paint a beautiful watercolor piece of art. I came across another bridge that took me across the valley and over the river to the other side and on my way back around to where I chose my original path at the fork earlier.
At this point, I had spent so much time stopping for photos and enjoying everything nature had laid out for me, it was beginning to get darker as the early fall night was nearing quickly. I knew that I couldn’t spend as much time stopping and had to hike on at a swifter pace to return back to my truck before night fully engulfed the skies. I made it back in time without having to strain my eyes to see, and headed home, all the while reminiscing about the evening’s journey and everything I had encountered. I said to myself aloud, “where will my next hike take me?”