Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Mildred Kanipe Park

Yeah I know, I haven't blogged in a long, long, long time. So to answer all the questions I've received from concerned friends (all two of them): yes, my health is fine; and yes, I still hike. Fine and dandy, but what's up with not blogging? Well, for starters I've branched out and no longer single-mindedly devote all my spare time to the wonderful avocation that is hiking. Added to the mix is live music, photography of live music, and time and energy bartering with bands for free CDs, backstage passes, and quality band time in the green room in exchange for photography. Oh yeah, and that work thing, too.

Nothing but blue skies overhead
Additionally, my attention got sucked into tracing my family history and frankly, that journey has been amazing. Now, my family tree goes back 32 generations and includes, saints (probably some sinners, too), kings and queens, presidents, authors, opera composers, and many other luminaries. With all my illustrious ancestors contributing to my own little shallow end of the gene pool, it's perhaps disappointing I turned out the way I did, but oh well. However, the time spent painstakingly perusing and translating ancient hand-written Spanish baptismal certificates was one more deterrent to sitting down and laying some awesome prose about my trail time.

Sun lights up a blackberry leaf
But really, truth be told, those are just excuses. The reality is that I simply just sort of got out of the habit of writing. After all, if I didn't catch my blog up, the sun still rose and the world did not end. Knowing the blog was getting ridiculously behind I set an arbitrary deadline of one year, as in if I got over one year behind, then I'd just give up the blog altogether. However, a couple of months ago, I had a little trail talk with myself and decided I would catch the blog up. But sheesh, a whole year's worth of hikes? So with profound apologies to my one blog follower, here goes my first hike of 2019.

Tinder fungus works on a decaying stump
This was New Year's Day of 2019 and New Year's Eve had been spent woo-hooing the new year in to the ska beats of Ludicrous Speed at Sam Bond's Garage in Eugene. Needless to say, it was nearly 4:00 am by the time I crawled into bed, effectively ruling out any early morning start to a hike. So, with body and soul dragging from a raucous night of Ludicrous Speed, I began this hike at the ludicrously late hour of 12:30 pm. I probably hiked at a ludicrous speed, too.   

Lichen drapery on an oak tree

Despite the late hour, the peacock welcoming committee at the park was happy to see us, and canine companion Luna was happy to see the peacocks. She was less overjoyed about the leash restraining and constraining her desire to joyously chase the feathered ones. In keeping with the optimism of a new year, the sun was out and the temperature was mild and just perfect for hiking.

Berry nice hawthorn tree

Same old park but a brand new trail for me on this day. We grabbed an unnamed trail that followed a fence line and were immediately surrounded by menacing hawthorns. Sharp thorns do put the "thorn" in "hawthorn" but fortunately, the  trail was well maintained, keeping the painful trees and shrubs at bay. Contrasting nicely against a blue sky, the branches were heavily laden with pithy but bright red hawthorn berries.

Just a beautiful day for a hike!
Life was good for about 3/4 mile or so, at which time the trail hung a sharp left turn at the park's boundary and the uphill hiking began. On the plus side, the path angled across the steep slope instead of charging straight up like the Oak Savannah Trail (my normal route) does. On the other side of the park fence, a horny bull (horny, as in it had horns, not as in...never mind) warily eyed Luna as we walked by. Oak trees were everywhere, their leafless branches gaily festooned with lichen drapery. Much photography ensued.

The wildlife was not all that wild
On a broad grassy ridge dotted with bare oaks, we rejoined the Oak Savannah Trail for a brief bit before departing on the Fern Woods Trail at a junction. The comfortable wide track became a narrow muddy trail that aimlessly meandered up and down through the woods. The two-legged portion of our hiking party left 10-foot skid marks on the treacherously muddy path but never actually fell. The four-legged portion of our hiking party had no problem at all with the slippery mud. Luna wondered how humans got to be the master species on this planet when they can't even walk right and besides which, they walk so slow.

Lichen sprouts on a tree trunk
Fern Woods is a special place and I always enjoy the peaceful forest when I hike here. Today was no exception and frequent stops were made, much to the consternation of an overly energetic dog, to photograph ferns, mushrooms, moss, and lichen. Because of our late start and because the days are short in winter, shadows lengthened in the forest as the sun slipped behind the trees.

Whee!
Leaving the tranquil forest behind, we entered Bachelor Creek's wet valley bottom. There were several inches of standing water covering the trail and while I trod through the ankle deep water, Luna was beyond joy. Letting out yips of unrestrained exuberance, the dog ran back and forth across the large puddles. The world would truly be a much better place if everybody hiked like Luna.

I got way too close to cow poop for this photo
At a prominent trail junction next to Bachelor Creek, a temporarily unleashed Luna enjoyed a quick splash and swim in the cloudy water. From there, this short 4 mile loop hike was closed off by returning to the trails through the oak savannas, where we enjoyed the sunshine and open pasture all over again. Our walk was briefly interrupted when I spotted odd little orange fungi sprouting all over a cow patty. I may have even let out my own little unrestrained yips of joy as I photographed the orange poop-loving fungi from a way-too-close distance, .

Mushroom on (in?) crack
Flash forward a year from this hike to find grandchildren and I standing in the checkout line at Fred Meyer, buying foodstuffs for the current day's hike. The woman in front of us said "Hello" and then asked "Are you that guy that writes for the News-Review about hiking?" I had to explain that it had been a couple of years since I last did that so she asked "Well, do you have a blog or anything like that?" Then I had to shamefacedly explain that I am one lazy Hiking Dude. But that conversation was one more impetus to resume blogging!

The Puddle of Serenity in the oaken woods
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


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