On a cool Sunday afternoon in May with partly cloudy skies I set out to hike once again the Bugle Trail at Osage Hills State Park. I parked by the park swimming pool and soon dove down off trail to Sand Creek below the waterfalls to enjoy the greenery from recent spring rains. The steep bluffs across the creek here mark the southern boundary of the park and I scampered alongside the creek past a large fallen tree to reach the triple falls. The creek was flowing well, water cascading across most of the breadth of the jagged upper falls.
Spiderwort was blooming as I climbed toward the group camp. Soon I was on the bluffs near the group camp and spied a social trail I’d spied before along their base. For the first time in my many trips along this trail I decided to access that bushwhack and found it quite photogenic. The trail led quite a ways along the base of the bluff, past rock nicely eroded with some visible bedding planes.
I found a new sign along the cabin trail indicating the path and old stone stairway to the ball field and traipsed across the field over to the high bluffs farther upstream. Here I spotted the diving tree below the bluffs and decided, for the first time in years of visits, to find the bushwhack down to it. It ran along a dark bluff to the tree where someone long ago nailed boards for illicit dives into the creek.
Climbing back up I admired the eroded stone, shot some more spiderwort, and then spotted a woman sitting at the far end of the bluffs, contemplating the view. Careful not to disturb her, I retreated back to the Bugle Trail and made my way past the observation tower up to the CCC camp, where I took a shot of the park water tower against the sky.
Dramatic clouds hung above Lookout Lake. Crossing the dam, I found the spillway fairly dry and clambered down through it for a panoramic view of the beautifully broken bluff there from a different angle than my usual shot of it. I passed the turnoff for the bicycle trails, which also sported a new sign. Along the trail back to the car I passed oxeye daisies and tickseed with close and separated petals, using my iPhone’s 8mm app to capture myself trekking along.
I read Kafka’s The Trial this past week, prompted by my affection for the 1962 film of it by Orson Welles. Today’s lovely five-mile walk through Osage Hills was quite a contrast to the oppressive gloom of that short novel, reminding me of Chapter XVIII: A Flood of Sunshine in The Scarlet Letter when Hester flings her stigmatic symbol away and the sun bursts through the forest gloom to illuminate her and poor Dimmesdale in an all-too-brief moment of hope before fate tightens its grasp upon them both. My nature walks are similarly a welcome contrast to work days spent in concrete cells under a fluorescent sky. No wonder I regard Oscar Wilde’s finest lines as the ones he wrote in the gloom of Reading Gaol, anticipating the healing freedom of Nature upon his release:
Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer; but Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed. She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.