Sunday, May 24, 2020

Mildred Kanipe Park

Memorial Day, besides being the day designated to remember and honor our fallen soldiers, is also a traditional time to enjoy an outdoor meal, barbecue, or picnic with friends and family. Obviously, that can be difficult to do safely in the middle of a pandemic but nonetheless, daughter Anjuli and I went out for a hike among thousands of  other Memorial Day celebrants enjoying a holiday meal together. In this case, the celebrants referred to were hordes of crab spiders lunching and munching while flies, bees, and at least one grub did not share the enthusiasm about this Memorial Day food fest. Maybe we should pause to remember all our fallen insects too.

Hooker's Indian pink wasn't hard to miss
This was a tough Memorial Day for both Anjuli and I because in February, Aislinn passed and we respectively lost a sister and daughter. For whatever reason or maybe no reason at all,  we each were feeling the loss this weekend so a healing hike was in order. Anjuli lives just down the road from  Mildred Kanipe Park, making this little hiking jewel of a park the logical destination.

One of thousands of insect pics I took
The day dawned gloriously sunny and bright and we began hiking under a blue sky containing just a hint of summer haze. The rolling hills and oak savannas of the park were beginning to dry yet remained colored a springlike green for the time being. Wildflowers were going to be thing today and the grasses were well infused with pale blue flax among a million other species. However, flax was the most prolific flowering specie today, earning a well-deserved Most Profuse Flower award, although oxeye daisy gave flax some stiff competition.

A turkey entertained us for a few minutes
Anjuli is my daughter and she likes to take photos too. It's in her genes. Once we found out bugs were crawling and landing on a multicolored plethora of blooms waving in the slight breeze, all serious hiking came to a screeching halt. Clearly this would turn out to be more nature walk and photo shoot  than hike as we indulged our shared muse. Not all the animal wildlife was insectile or arachnid in nature as a turkey hen crossed the trail in front of us, not at all concerned with our presence in her home. 

This was a berry yummy hike at times 
After a short but time-consuming walk on a trail overgrown with grass that just felt like it was populated with a creepy population of ticks, the trail turned uphill and we both broke out in a sweat from the exertion under a warm sun (The final tally was just one tick found on Anjuli's pant leg). Off to one side of the trail were bunches of wild strawberry plants just going to fruit. The berries may be so much smaller than those you can find in a grocery store, but you just cannot beat the taste. 

Memorial Day picnic in progress
Once we attained the high point of this hike in a park-like glade of oaks surrounded by knee high grass, the ox-eye daisies began to supplant the blue flax blooming in the grass. It was about then that crab spiders became a thing on this hike, for nearly every daisy had one or more of them lurking in the petals. Many of them were lucky little spiders, having scored a fly or bee that unsuspectingly landed into the eight-legged ambush waiting in the seemingly safe blooms. The nadir of all the spider Memorial Day picnics came when we espied two spiders munching on either end of a thin grub. Anjuli extended a finger to point something out with the spiders when the darker spider jumped onto her finger, setting off a round of screams and squeals, along with some fatherly laughter.

Ferns in Fern Woods, who'd a thunk it?
We grabbed the loop trail running through Fern Woods and the trail was heavily encroached not only with ferns, but also with nasty and oily green leaves of poison oak. And me hiking with shorts on! The forest was wonderfully shady with the woods carpeted with millions of fern fronds competing with poison oak for ground space. It's called Fern Woods because a) there are an astounding amount of ferns growing in the woods and b) nobody wants to spend a sunny Sunday hiking in Poison Oak Woods.

A longhorn beetle better watch out for spiders
The path dropped out of the woods and descended through some through some grassy meadows and rolling hills before bottoming out next to muddy Bachelor Creek. Ox-eye daisies were the dominant life form here, and more bee and fly carnage by spider marauders entertained us. Life is cheap if you are a small insect here, for sure.

We ran a cattle gauntlet at the end of the hike
Kanipe Park is a working cattle ranch and we closed off the loop hike with a walk through wary bovines grazing in their pasture. We may have been equally and likewise wary of the large cow thingies as they were of us. We quickly learned to scan body parts to determine whether it be bull, cow, or steer, engendering some rather ribald conversations between father and daughter. At any rate, no mad cows confronted or accosted us as we returned to the park headquarters to the accompaniment of loud peacock hoots and turkey gobbles.

Anjuli jumps for joy
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. Beautiful macro photo, wonderful landscape, that hike looks great.

  2. Thanks Ciska! Yes, Kanipe Park is a wonderful little park that is underrated and undervisited as a hiking destination. I love that place, especially when the spiders start eating the bugs. Hope all is well with you and yours, stay safe my friend.