This past Thursday, I looked out my front door and all I could think about was going hiking. The weather report from the day before called for mostly cloudy skies and possibly a bit of rain, but what greeted me was just the opposite. Evidently a Norther had blown in and we were once again being blessed with clear blue skies and temperatures in the 50’s. My kind of day.
Looking my bride square in the eye, I appealed to her about my need to hike and nodding her approval, she watched as I packed my High Sierra fanny pack. It’s a real gem of a pack and heavy duty as all get out, allowing me to comfortably carry quite a bit of heavy stuff. Over the years I’ve tried a good number of packs and carriers and this is the best thing short of a full day pack for my needs.
In case you are interested in getting one, I bought it online at www.joessports.com and it’s called the High Sierra Ridgeline Lumbar / Waist Pack and it costs about $50. I recommend Joe’s also, as I’ve bought a lot of stuff from them and they are fair in price and excellent in service.
My usual gear went into the pack, which includes my Powerlock MultiTool (which my son carried while serving in the Army in Iraq), Canon digital camera, Nikon binoculars, Sansa MP3 player, 2 bottles of water, red neckerchief, cheese crackers, sunflower seeds and a couple other essentials.
Rolling down the driveway in my hoopty in anticipation of hitting the trail, I cruised off towards I-10 and the hectic traffic, which is exactly the opposite of what I am trying to find on the Trace. The trail is twelve miles from my house, but due to road construction on I-10, it is an unbelievable twenty-four miles to get home. To leave the Trace, a person has to head east, not west, go over the Trinity River and drive to Anahuac to make the turn-around. This adds twelve miles to the return trip.
Pulling into the Trace, I spy another vehicle in the parking lot and it turns out to be a couple from Baytown and they plan on biking in the Trace. Since the road is closed and the gate is locked with a sign that states “U. S. Property – NO Vehicles”, they are hesitant to enter. I tell them I interpret the sign to read no motorized vehicles and they decide that’s what it means also.
What a beautiful day for hiking and riding and we all head off into the Trace, me going towards the Hurricane blasted picnic area and they, after preparation, into the Trace proper. We did not cross paths again, but I did see them crossing one of the boardwalks hours later. I wish I would have asked their names and email addresses.
The picnic area at the front of the Trace is filled with giant oaks and there are a lot of downed limbs which makes it look inadmissible, but after negotiating the destruction I found most of it is wide open and quite majestic. I hope it is cleared and opened soon.
Leaving the picnic area, I crossed the fence into the Trace with the intention of walking the main road to the locks and dam on the Trinity River. The locks are maintained by the Wallisville Lake Project workers and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers on the east bank and if my feet are any indication, this is about 4.5 miles away on a very rustic and storm-beaten dirt road.
The last time I was here was about 3 weeks ago and the fires that were burning then were now out, but the pleasant smell of wood smoke lingered. I couldn’t get over the feeling that I was seeing raw nature though, as fire-burned areas existed long before man and this burned area looked plum primal.
I was delighted to see the oddly red-colored raccoon at work looking for crawfish, which I spied the last time I was here, but this time, he had the jump on me and ran before I could get more than a blurry photo. This trip allowed me to glimpse numerous well-fed nutria, shorebirds, predatory birds, a small snake and diverse ducks, but alas, it is still too cool for alligators. The upside is the absence of mosquitoes.
I made my long walk in the sun to the locks and back feeling totally cleansed by the exertion and sunshine logging in about ten miles, if I can include the many meanderings I allowed myself and I posted my photographs here, for all to enjoy.
JJ Mayes Wildlife Trace Feb 2009