Construction and completion of a new fish ladder has discouraged my walks on the creek this summer and fall. So I was surprised when my car turned in that direction yesterday when I thought I was headed to the other walking path nearby.
The parking lot was nearly empty and there was a sign that said closed. However, the park ranger who happened to be standing on the sidewalk called out that it was indeed open.
I happily crossed the bridge.
This time of year gives me some apprehension for walking alone. Several years ago this season was when I encountered the beautiful Bobcat that pretty much seemed indifferent to my presence. This is the time of year when cougar sightings are common as well. Quite a few years past I saw a bear after hearing it rushing away through the underbrush.
Only a few years ago I came across a person rising from his sleeping bag partially hidden in the bushes. I had the advantage of already being in boots and full stride so was out of sight in seconds. I reported the 'camper' in the no camping zone to the park ranger who informed me that they had been searching for one of the same description. The interloper had chased several women when they had surprised him in the same manner as I had done. (I wiped my brow of sweat after that one.)
That experience allowed me to not be surprised yesterday when I met a woman struggling to push what appeared to be a large stroller full of belongings while pulling a cooler on wheels. What was most surprising was the large hound lounging on the piled clothes and blankets sporting a very large belly. She stopped her forward motion when I approached and dabbed the trickles of sweat on her neck. She said her dog was pregnant and due to deliver any time. As I was also sweaty and tired, I was eager to get back to my car. I did not linger except to look at the large dog and acknowledge its swollen girth. On my return to the parking lot, the ranger was nowhere in sight. I still carry the burden of worry about the situation and think I will call the number on the office door this morning. Homelessness and new puppies. And it is pouring rain today.
Earlier on the path I had observed a portly sweaty guy exercising on the opposite side of the creek; bare, except for loose shorts and short socks. He appeared to repeat a routine that included a short race on a too small bike, a run to a wooden park bench at the edge of the water where he performed modified push ups, and then reverse direction. I suspect this was a new adventure in fitness for him and I hope for his success.
Very little other 'wild life' at 3 in the afternoon. Except maybe me? I'm at odds with myself here because I'm sure I stun others with my wide brim hat attached beneath my chin. Longs sleeves and loose long pants that cover all my skin so the sun can't find it. Sun glasses that cover my prescription glasses and half of my face. Binoculars hanging over my belly from cross- the -back strap. Pockets stuffed with tissue, cell phone, car keys, and what have you. Then, of course, my noisy walking boots that contain orthotics squeaking with each step. Certainly some solitary wonders on both sides of the creek.
Meanwhile there were some photo opportunities.
The solitary silhouette of a gliding Coopers Hawk
and the solitary statue stillness of a Great Blue Heron.
I'm never bored on my solitary walks.