I’ve just completed the first work week of the new school year and it had been almost a month since my last real day hike. So I broke with tradition and took an August hike. Minding the forecast high in the mid-90s I got up before dawn, hoping to take an early morning hike on the Bugle Trail at Osage Hills.
I breakfasted at Eggbert’s and then drove the 20 miles to the park, only to be thwarted since the gate would not open until 8 a.m. So I drove back to town, stopping along the way to admire the sky and the high view of town looking east along US 60. I made a pit stop at my home and then zipped back out to the now-open park.
The sun had climbed the sky and the temperature had reached the upper 70s when I reached the trailhead, greeted by a deer. When I startled it two more deer hidden in the brush bounded off too. I headed for the Sand Creek Bluffs, startling the big blue heron at the pool near the trail and, as usual, failing to capture a photo of it. When standing aside for a park truck coming along the trail, one of the employees thanked me for coming out to visit. In all of my visits to the park I’ve been true to my usual loner hiking personality and not interacted much with the staff, but they’ve always been unfailingly polite and welcoming.
The water was unusually still in Sand Creek, and later I’d find the explanation in that it had completely stopped flowing across the waterfall ledges downstream. I took the opportunity to cross the ledge to the far side of the creek, but the brush was too high for much exploring: I was in shorts with my legs and arms thoroughly doused in Cutter, which kept most insects at bay but didn’t stop mosquitos from stabbing me in the back through my wicking shirt.
I recrossed the creek and bushwhacked past the big fallen tree around the bend of Sand Creek, struck by its unusually low appearance. Signs on the high bluffs to the east warned me off from intruding onto their heights so I made my way back up the west bank to the trail. I wandered over to the shelter in the picnic area, which I usually don’t visit because it so often is in use. This morning there were the remains of a wedding strewn about, from flowers and candles to cups and Diet Coke. Hopefully the couple got off to a less messy start than it appeared!
The back side of the shelter was pretty in the morning sun and I followed the Bugle Trail on north to Lake Lookout, where I saw the rowboat actually in use for once, carrying a family about the little lake. I circled around past the CCC camp and observation tower back to my car.
I went about four miles in two hours, sauntering about with no pack or poles. The temperature had reached the upper 80s so I was glad to pay for a Coke Zero at the restroom building. Then I drove back to town to wash up for a well-deserved lunch, glad that I’d broken the August spell and managed to work in a short hike somewhere other than the Pathfinder Parkway.