Exploring a familiar park

November 13, 2015.

Today was a hike day for Hike366, so I had to fit something in. Anything. And not the same old thing. I racked my brain. Where would I be? How much time did I have? What was the weather doing? I’d DONE Corvallis. There was nothing new left to see. Or, was there?

I had been visiting Martin Luther King Jr Park (a.k.a. Walnut Park) since I moved to Corvallis. I’d crawled on every corner of the playground, the barn and some of the trails between the two. But as I looked closer on Google Maps I discovered that there was more of this park to see. Huh, I thought, maybe I’ll just tool around MLK park and see what else there is?

It was overcast, but not raining. A classic fall day in the valley. I had some time in between appointments so I put my hiking shoes on and started walking. The trails were wet. Deer tracks were left behind in the slimy mud. I climbed up a lovely path to a fork. With no map but a decent sense of the lay of the land I picked a direction and kept walking.

Not long into my walk I came across a deer leg. Just the bones, and the hoof, still strung together by some tough ligaments. Gross, and cool, at the same time. I was giddy like a ten-year old boy.

The forest was delightful. Lichen clung to the tree branches. Colorful fungi poked out of the ground. Hawthorn berries seemed to glow a bright orange. And yellowing maple leaves held on to their last breaths of life, dangling from the trees. Fallen leaves blanketed the ground. And yet, lush, green moss were as lively as ever, enjoying the wet autumn.

I wandered off trail to play on the trees. Looked for interesting photographs. Adventured down side paths of dubious quality. And simply enjoyed some alone time in the woods. It was much unlike my typical style of hiking: choose a far-off destination and charge towards it. This was more ambling, relaxed, undirected. It was the perfect way to spend some time this morning, before heading off to my next work appointment. Perhaps I need to carve out more opportunities like this…

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