Messenger Woods

Today, I. and I took a short hike in Messenger Woods Nature Preserve in Homer Glen, IL. In my short lifetime I have visited almost every nature hiking path in the area, but Messenger escaped me. We figured the snow would be too deep to walk, but took a chance on it being a well used trail. we parked in a loop and stopped to read the message board, and to view the map. I determined the trail head to be about two to three hundred meters away. There were no tracks leading to it. My Lovely shook her head and balked at the prospect of lifting legs ten inches high with every step. We returned to the car, and I decided that as long as I was there I would continue to the end of the drive to see where it leads. The drive was short and sure enough there was the official trial head for the short .5 mile loop. The second choice was a 1.3 mile loop which we decided to do at another time. The short loop was well trodden and the path was lumpy but walkable. The lumps made it a bit treacherous, but what the hell let’s do it.

The sun was at it’s peak and the sky was as blue as a sky can be. The brightness required us to wear sunglasses. The temperature was a balmy 26 degrees Fahrenheit. The walking was slow because of the lumps, and the hills. Walking up a hill was easier than walking down. During the downside our shoes tended to ski out from under us and we would up flailing arms and twisting our bodies to keep from falling. We took it slow, and even slower on the downsides. The singing birds were the only noise in the forest. The trees at Messenger are huge and old. It wasn’t obvious how huge until we passed a downed tree, and saw the trunk horizontal and stretched out. Being a Nature Center they are not allowed to remove the fallen trees, but they are allowed to clear a path if a downed one crosses the trail. Many of the fallen seniors were easily sixty feet in length, and two feet or more in diameter.

We didn’t see a single deer during our walk but the forest floor was riddled with foot prints of many different kinds of animals. Deer tracks were the most common. I have yet to learn where deer stay in the day time. One would think that on a sunny day like today they would be easily spotted, but they weren’t.

While walking I had a recollection of a camping trip I took with friends to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming. Five of us, two engineers and three school teachers, stuffed our bikes, gear, and selves into a GM mini van and drove to Jackson Hole in July. The goal was to bicycle around the Yellowstone Park loop, and camp between segments. Before we reached Jackson Hole, one of the teachers who was an experienced camper, skier, and hiker asked if he could stop at a small town maybe Pinedale, forty miles south of Jackson Hole. There was a super sports equipment store there where one could buy neat camping, hiking, fishing, and hunting gear of any kind. During that stop, I bought a pair of polyester wind-pants to wear over my legs on chilly Yellowstone nights. This morning I was trying to remember what year it was that we took that trip so I could peg the age of these pants. Since that trip x-x years ago this is the first year I have worn the wind pants, and I have worn them more than any other time. Talk about being emotionally connected to something like a pair of pants, this is a prime example. Now, I am thinking of all the other stuff I have hidden in drawers, closets, and shelves that are there because the items are too good to throw away, and I might use it again. The easiest way to quantify all that stuff is to call it a house full.

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