And we did. We both started the day off feeling less than great (by a good bit) and I mentioned a couple times that I felt like curling up with TV shows and fanfic for the day despite how much I would like to do the things we had planned for the day. But somehow, that little switch that's flipped in us both made it just easy enough to break our routine. We got dressed, pulled out the hiking boots, packed a picnic lunch and extra water bottles, and took off!
A Google search for nearby hiking led me to info on the Flat Rock Cedar Glades and Barrens Hiking Trail just over ten minutes from our house. Early in the trail, we came across a field of echinacea that had several butterflies and dragonflies fluttering about. I swear I saw at least 5-6 of each at one time! It felt like a scene from A Secret Garden or something - magical. See that dragonfly to the right there? I had much better views throughout the day, but this is the only one I caught with the camera.
And then as I was taking photos, this big ole' bumble bee buzzed around the flower I was zoomed in on. I watched as he walked all the way around the cone of the flower and managed to capture this just as he came around the side and before he flew off (right in my direction - eek!). I just love it when I get cool photos like this. :)
As we followed the trail I stopped for a nearly ridiculous amount of photos - so many beautiful views, gorgeous wildflowers, and unexpected finds. If you'd like to view all the photos (and haven't already) you can see the full Google album here. I'm posting my favorites here, though. Consider this the top highlights. :)
Starting with the best company I could have asked for - my lovely wife, Heather.
I had a serious bit of deja vu once we got to the spot where the loop meats up with the first bit of the trail - it opens up from a tree-lined path to a clearing with a circle of trees around the edge along both forks of the path. Heather chose to start to the right, and in my overlapping memory daze, I stumbled after her. At one point, I decided to leave the trail to try and get a better view of the beautiful orange flowers that just popped all throughout the field. It made me smile to learn later that Heather was watching me and taking a photo of me we I wandered in my own little world.
By the time I was finished here, it was starting to rain but we figured we could keep walking in the rain - so we did. I'd guess it was maybe 20 or so minutes of rain, some of which was partly sheltered when we got to another heavily treed area, but we were still quite wet by the time it stopped. And you know what, I didn't even care. I told Heather a few times on this hike that it was the best I'd felt in a couple weeks and I wanted to enjoy every minute of it that I could.
And here's also something we've decided to make a tradition with every hike - trail kisses. :)
Other random bits of beauty along the trail...
The artist in me wants to get slices of that trunk, dry them, and do wood burned pictures on them.
This little vine caught my attention, and I got all zen thinking about how it's so pretty, and looks so strong and healthy and it's just sprung up out of the hard, rocky path. It's not a typically ideal place for a plant, but this one doesn't care; it's gonna thrive with the options it's been given. Yeah, I see the metaphor.
Heather pointed out the way the raindrops were beaded on these leaves, shimmering in the light. I tried several times to take the photo but it didn't take until about the 8th time - just after the sun peeked out a bit to glint of the water beads even more. :) Serendipity.
Some of the views were striking, at least to me, though I'm not sure I could explain why if you asked.
And then there was this - what we're pretty sure is a vulture carcass that's been eaten by other vultures. I knew it reminded me of another image I'd seen, but it wasn't until I got home and was editing the photos that it clicked for me - Eris, Goddess of Discordia.
Somewhere along the way we got off the main trail and ended up off the State Natural Area land by a bit (not that we were really aware of that until we saw the markers on our way back to the trail). We could have done the longer loop, and fully plan to sometime soon, probably without me stopping for as many photos and ideally with more water on us.
On the way back to the car for our late-lunch picnic (and man were we hungry by this point), I stopped one more time at the echinacea field, said hello to the Dragonflies again, and took a moment to stack a few rocks and just thank the Universe and Mother Earth for this experience. It was energizing and touching and fun and entertaining and educational and just a really great afternoon! The tasty picnic lunch after finishing the trail was the perfect cap to that trip.