I did not hike for the first three weeks of 2011, instead fighting a sinus infection which I managed to enhance with a rash and hives via an allergic reaction to penicillin. That was a reminder of childhood which I could have lived without! Thankfully today I finally felt strong enough to tromp some trails.
A snow had closed school on Thursday, but by Saturday morning the roads were quite clear and I drove south to Kilkenny’s Irish Pub in Tulsa’s Cherry Street district. I had the delicious “Chatsworth” boxty, which is a grilled potato pancake stuffed with slow-cooked chicken breast sauteed with fresh garlic, shallots, mushrooms and red peppers in white wine, and topped with white wine sauce. I followed that up with Irish Balloons – fried pastry balls dusted with powdered sugar and served with sweet Irish whiskey butter sauce. Oh my!
After gorging myself I ventured over to Woodward Park, a frequent haunt of portrait photographers. I was so happy to be walking out in nature again that I danced my way down snowy slopes to a silly tune on my iPod. Descending snow-covered steps and using stepping stones to cross the frozen creek over to Cyrus Dallin’s Appeal to the Great Spirit, I admired the winter sun radiating about his upturned head. Passing the faux wood bridge and frozen grotto by the frozen creek, I reached Rosalind Cook’s Poems and Promises, struck by how from some angles the figure seems to defy gravity. I don’t care for her facial features from some angles, but I do like to gaze across her right shoulder and prefer her to the nearby nymph.
I found I felt good enough for a hike, so I ventured over to Redbud Valley. The trip took longer than expected, as a parked train blocked my way, forcing me to take Tiger Switch Road over to Catoosa and wind my way over to the preserve past an old quarry. Unlike many visitors, who turn right to enjoy the loop along the bluffs, I took the snowy path through the woods and across the glades to maximize the length of my walk. Striding past a picturesque bench, I carefully navigated the crevice down through the bluff and posed below a rock arch. The springs at the end of the bluff were stilled, and I only encountered one group of hikers during my entire two-mile walk.
The footprints of earlier hikers made the bluff trail easy to follow despite the snow, and I traipsed along and under the bluff, admiring the clefts and threading the rocky passages and narrow ledges. At the end of the trail I spotted a dilapidated adjacent barn and lengthened my journey by reversing course to follow the creek below the bluffs. It had eaten away a section of trail, collapsing the wood walkway. Reaching the crooked fence at the far end of the bluffs, I again reversed course and returned to the car.
There were a few hours of daylight left, so I drove east to the main portion of the Oxley Nature Center, pausing to shoot an active quarry from the warmth and safety of my car, with blast whistle signals shrieking in my ears.
At Mohawk Park I headed straight for Blackbird Marsh. As expected, the walkway led out over a frozen scene. I sat on the edge of the walkway, dangling my feet onto the ice below. The icy surface of the marsh certainly wasn’t strong enough to support my weight, but I enjoyed supporting myself on my arms while putting enough weight on my legs to make the ice shudder and groan. On my stroll back to the car, I encountered three deer. They scurried across the trail, then paused to stare at me intently. They won the contest, and I retreated to a bench at Meadowlark Prairie and caught the glimmer of the sun across the frozen surface of the pond. Then I watched birds above Lake Yahola as the light failed.
Dinner was downtown at Spaghetti Warehouse, then I drove past the BOK Center over to Boston Avenue Methodist to admire how its Art Deco spire speared the night. Nearby bronze children danced as my day drew to a close, having walked over four miles after three weeks of languishing at home. I’m back on happy trails.