Last weekend, Michelle and I decided that we would hike a new area today. There is a fire road around the base of Eagle Mountain that Bill has hiked several times, so we decided to give it a try. Bill, Dolores, and Maggie were set to join us. We headed out at 7 am and entered the Refuge through the Cache entrance. There were quite a few deer near Camp Doris, so we stopped for photo ops.
We turned at the Boulder/Lost Lake sign and headed to the Boulder Picnic Area, which would be our launching point. As we neared the turn out for Boulder Cabin/The Narrows, we noticed quite a few longhorn. The number increased as we pulled into the parking lot and included one who was very close to the trail head. After greeting our hiking companions and getting a kiss from Maggie, Bill informed us that there were buffalo at the Boulder parking lot/Kite Trail trail head. His fear (and I agreed) was that we would return to find our cars surrounded by unwelcoming guests. We quickly decided to head to Post Oak Falls.
By the time we parked at Post Oak Lake, it was 8 am and already quite toasty. We hadn’t hiked very far when Bill and I got into a discussion concerning our photographic opportunities for the morning (or lack thereof). Almost all of the wildflowers are gone. There are still some here and there, but the overall splendor has passed. The heat has bleached the blue out of the sky and turned it almost the same color as the clouds. There weren’t a lot of clouds this morning and the light was far too harsh for good photos. Everything is still very green, but it’s just not pretty.
Halfway down the trail, we stopped for Bill to photograph some birds. We heard voices and shortly saw a young couple approaching. We exchanged greetings and they continued toward Post Oak Falls. No water at all! People seriously need to use common sense when hiking. They didn’t have packs or anything. Continuing on, we quickly reached the creek crossing and found it dry as a bone. I have crossed that creek several times and there has always been at least a little water. This did not bode well. As we approached Post Oak Falls, my thoughts proved true. The falls were completely dry.
We hung out for a bit and took a photo op with Maggie, Frank and Claudia.
The hike back was hot and sweaty. We stopped a couple of times for water breaks and pictures of dragonflies. At one of these stops, Dolores offered Bill a bottle of water. He seemed to hesitate and she remarked that he doesn’t like to drink from the same bottle. Seriously? “You kiss your wife, don’t you?”, I asked. “I don’t have a problem with it” Bill replied. His face said otherwise! Then Dolores said that she is pretty sure Bill uses her razor in the shower. Without missing a beat, he replied that he only uses it to shave his legs! I love hiking with these people! You never know what conversation will transpire.
We finally arrived back at the cars around 9:30. Cranked up the A/C, stowed the gear, and grabbed the snack that smiles back. We said our goodbyes and Michelle and I headed to the visitor center.
We encountered Randy in the parking lot and then proceeded inside, where Donna was so happy to see us. After a bit of conversation, we discovered that the new shipment of finger puppets had arrived! Like kids at Christmas, we raced into the Nature Store and started inspecting. After a bit of discussion, I chose an otter, which we named Randy the River Otter. Michelle chose a bunny, which we named after Donna. Coreeta, who manages the Nature Store, took a picture of us with our expanded menagerie, and we introduced our new puppets to their namesakes. Over the next hour, we directed a few hikers, became reacquainted with a Danish lady who had visited before and was back with friends, told stories, and laughed a lot. We also got to meet (and prank) Donna’s sister and brother-in-law. Of course, we were introduced as Mutt and Jeff.
It has honestly become far too hot to enjoy hiking, so in August, we will hike very early and finish early. Then we plan to spend time at the visitor center volunteering. We are pretty good workers and we take instruction fairly well, so what could go wrong? Hmmm: Michelle, me, Randy, Donna, Sierra and lots of unsuspecting visitors. It’s going to be a fun August!!
Remember to follow your own path, but always be prepared. Always carry adequate water and snacks. Use sunscreen and bug spray when necessary. If it’s hot, get out early and finish early. Let somebody know where you’re going and when you expect to return. And if there are a lot of wildlife in the area, choose another path. Better safe than sorry, and you will live to hike another day. See you on the trail!