Day 18: 3.54 miles / Total miles: 18.14mi / Days left: 161 / Time: ? / Pace: 29’07”
The moment I stepped on the trail today, I realized I have watched way too many Jurassic Park movies.
Part of me was worried that a velociraptor would pop out from behind a moss covered tree.
And the other part of me, was hoping it did because maybe Chris Pratt would be right behind it.
Wait. I am getting sidetracked.
I was supposed to meet up with my work husband again. But he had to make a last minute change.
So I made a last minute brain change.
I had already figured out our route. We would go down and back. About 1.5 miles. Slowly. Easily.
Nothing too strenuous because we both died on yesterdays hike.
Today’s hike was going to be all about keeping our muscles moving so they dont atrophy.
When I got his message, I figure that I can lengthen my mileage a little bit.
A little bit being the key phrase.
Oh, how I love how much my brain underestimates everything in the woods.
From mileage, to time, to my trail preparations, to bathroom usage, to lung capacity.
But oh well. I am training for a reason. Lessons lived. Lessons learned.
So I arrive at this park. And it already feels different.
I am not sure why yet. Maybe it is because I suddenly realize that I have been driving past this specific jungle for years. Decades even. And I had zero clue it existed.
How could I not know how this place existed? Its….magical.
The tall trees. The mossy limbs. The flat, even terrain. The small trail signs. The wild flowers. The swamps. The boardwalks. The ducks. The deers. The park ranger.
This is one of those parks that is hard to describe. This is one of those parks that you need to experience for yourself.
This is one of those parks, that changes you.
Or at least it changed me.
I found my confidence, on this trail.
I discovered my power, on this trail.
I realized my potential, on this trail.
I pushed my limits, on this trail.
Today, I was looking forward to my walk. Work has been intense the past couple weeks. Hiking has been refreshing. The moment I wake up, I am excited for my afternoon hike.
The day goes by so slow, but so fast.
On this particular day, I had everything converging at one point. I had to return my new shoes and get different ones. I had to hike. I had to go to the grocery store. I had to run home and make a quick dinner. I had to put together the community dinner for Pow Wow tomorrow. I had to rush to my first CERT training.
I had alot to do today. I told myself that in order to get everything done, I had absolutely no more than 2 hrs today.
So off I went. It was love at first sight.
I didnt know that was a thing. It probably isn’t. I am probably just crazy.
Anyways. It was an easy hike. And before I knew it, I was at a mile. Not huffing and puffing. And no desire to take a rest.
So I told myself I would make it to the end of this trail and make a decision – turn back or keep going.
I got to the end. I still hadnt sat. I just wanted to keep going.
So I did.
The park is divided in to 2 sides with 2 separate long trails with multiple side trails. But they dont connect at the end perse.
At the end, both main trails end at gates on a very busy 2 lane street.
In my mind, after studying the map a few times, I figured the only way to get to the other main trail, was to walk on this road.
I walked as fast as I could. This was scary. And definitely not safe. If I bring the scouts here, there is no way we could make it a full loop, just an out and back.
I finally made it to the other trail entrance. Few. Never doing that again.
And once I reached the other side, I had the sudden realization that there is a connecting trail between the 2. I would just have to backtrack on one trail to get to the other side.
Whoops. Moral of the story is – there is always a second way. You just have to double check before settling on the first option.
Anyways. This side was a little different. You could see warehouses and a busy street thru the trees on one side. Whereas the other main trail was far enough away from society that it was just you and the birds. And invisible velociraptors.
But the other side was also magical in it’s own rite.
Imagine that a whole bunch of people brought 21st supplies back to the age when dinosaurs stil roamed, and built a trail thru the forests.
That is exactly how it felt.
But I also encountered a few interesting characters on this side. Since this side had easy access to the Max line and multiple companies and apartments, I feel like this side is a little more heavily trafficked.
For instance, I had turned a corner at one point, and there were 2 people sitting on a bench on the bridge.
I didnt think anything of it. Until I saw one of the people quickly go to put something in his pocket and it fell into the shallow swamp beneath.
I was going to let the person know that they dropped something. Since you know, leave no trace. But I took a look at it, and it was a baggy of some sort of white drugs (too many Cops shows).
Yeah, no. I just stumbled upon a drug deal happening in progress. And I did not want to interrupt. Or let on that I saw. Eventually the person would realize it was missing.
They wouldn’t leave a trace of that. Right?
I walked faster. I didnt want to look back. And then I heard a noise right behind me and it freaked me out a tad.
So I looked behind me. Phew. Just a skateboarder singing to his music.
And then I met Ranger Kyle. I had the pleasure of talking to him and getting to know about how he became a park ranger. This was his second career.
He looked happy. I dont blame him! He has an amazing job that allows him to be in nature. He gets paid to walk the park.
I told him I am training for a solo section hike. He gave me some great information on parks around us and where to find trail maps.
And then we parted ways. I kept moving forward. I rounded a corner. And I heard some leaves rustle.
I nearly jumped out of my skin.
It’s a velociraptor, isn’t it? I know there is a park ranger near. He isnt Chris Pratt. But I am sure he will save me. Right?
Oh few. Just a couple deers.
Wait. Deers? Like 10 feet away from me? No way! How is this possible. In the middle of a huge city.
No. We are in the middle of a modern day Jurassic Park right now. This is their home.
So I watched them for a little while. One munched away on leaves. Keeping her eye on me. She did not give me the impression that she was scared or worried or wanting to hurt me.
Just more annoyed that humans have turned her home into a perverse form of voyeurism.
I started walking again. Ranger Kyle caught up. He was on the phone. Trying to tell someone directions to a certain place in the park.
When he ended his call, I joked that he was stalking me. We started talking again and walking in the same direction.
Turns out he was talking to a police officer because he found a homeless encampment that was nearly well hidden.
We turned a corner and I saw a sign on its side that had a beer can attached. I started to say something, probably stupid. But Ranger Kyle told me that he had used the sign to pick up the beer can and that is when he saw the corner of the blue tarp. If the can wasnt there, he would never have seen it.
So I laughed with him that he is a macgyver park ranger.
After we parted ways, I realized I needed to beat feet to make it in time for my 2hr deadline.
And it was then that I realized I hadnt sat once. I hadnt stopped once to find my breath and slow my heart.
It was then that I realized that my feet hurt. That I wished they had made short wool socks. I’d rock those every day.
But I had to get back to the car. And quick.
I did it. I pushed myself. To limits I figured would be awhile before I could test.
My feet wanted to detach themselves from my body and hibernate.
Granted, the hills were minimal. The terrain fairly smooth. And even.
But this park, this magical, indescribable, Jurassic park, allowed me to uncover an ability I only imagined.
This forest will always have a special place in my heart. I will forever be connected to it.
As this is the park my soul made it apparent, that this journey is right where I need to be.
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