Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sweating the Goose Creek Trail

I tell folks I ain’t built for speed, but I can still lift heavy stuff, providing I get under it and get a good grip. Actually, this is only partly true, as these days I realize I have little to prove by exhibiting past Herculean effort and never having had a hernia, I figure there is no sense in getting one now. The speed part is totally true, as I have stubby legs and a corpulent girth.

My brutish, but fairly common body build is good for endurance though and this is where I shine, so to speak. It serves me well when I do the stuff I like to do, like hike, stroll, jog, or tote heavy stuff.

Friday morning, I looked out the kitchen window and having watched the weather report the day before, I knew we were heading into another hot and humid Texas day. Male cicadas calling out to each other filled the air and even though I could hear the steady hum of air registers in my air-conditioned home, the tree-crawling bugs trill reminded me of just how much I love to be out in the heat of our summers.

Because we cicadas do their most spirited humming when it is hottest outside, I too began to get the itch to crawl along a trail. Gathering up a full compliment of accouterments and trail gear, I hopped into my fuel-efficient hooptee and drove down to Garth and Decker to walk the Goose Creek Trail. I was still thinking about the cicadas as I entered the trail close to El Toro’s and even though folks around the world regularly eat these fellas, I just could not figure out how I would go about cooking up a mess of those bugs, when the smell of Mexican food around me seemed so much more appetizing.

For starters, each time I walk this trail I pass a couple of cars parked right on the trail behind El Toro’s beside the sign that reads “No Parking at any time” and wonder how this is possible that the owners of the cars feel free to block the trail and ignore the sign. Maybe they are blinded to the sign by visions of delicious food? Who knows – I keep walking.

This particular day, I was on a mission. A mission to walk to Bayland Park and back in the heat and not fall out like a heat-crazed lunatic. It was about 9AM, hot, sunny and humid and I was carrying about 15 pounds of gear, which included 3 pounds of water. I like to carry a lot of stuff when I hike and get a good workout. Some of the stuff I never plan to use, but in the event I need it, I want to have it with me, if you catch my drift.

Behind the old San Jacinto Hospital, I passed a longhaired fellow working the pebbles in the playground area with a metal detector and a sharpshooter shovel. Beep, beep – beeeep! He was finding coins alright, real treasure to be sure and even though he would probably have to find a bag of quarters a number of times to pay for his electronics, I’ve lived long enough to realize the fiscal expenditure is secondary to the amount of joy he probably receives through his hobby.

Now some folks will tell you that any sane person will not be walking, hiking or jogging in the middle of a hot Texas day and they may be right…but, the key is to know your limitations. Just the day before I jogged about 2 miles at 2pm and enjoyed every bit of it, so a 2-hour hike in the heat was within my limits. I read the other day that a certain 1930’s era Texan worked all day, then walked 10 -15 miles to attend a dance, walked home afterward, bathed, grabbed a bite to eat then went back to work. Not me. It passes my limit of endurance.

I set a good 15-minute per mile pace and kept planting the heels of my $22 Payless sneakers. The sweat was flowing and I had a red bandana to mop my face, trying to keep from rubbing the SPF-50 off in the process. Nary a soul did I pass on the trail, which is sad, but just as well, as I am a lone trekker for the most part. I did however scare up a brace of coneys in two locations. Two were cottontails and two were swamp rabbits. They made good company.

The bridge over the slough close to Robert E. Lee high school always has a good variety of shore birds and this day was no exception. The heat was such that they were sluggish and allowed me to get quite close as long as I kept moving along, which I did.
It appears that an industrious city employee on a brush hog cut back and forth all across the trail while cutting the grass and deposited a lot of mud and debris on it and over close to West Main and the icehouse “Softails” the tractor ran slap into a cement drain culvert, knocking it off its pedestal. Pretty sloppy work by that fellow in my opinion, but what do I know, I’m just walking the trail. I’ll drop Scott Johnson an email anyway so some kid doesn’t fall into it.

By the time I arrived at WC Britton Park, the fellow with the metal detector was hard a work over there and we shared pleasantries. Passing through the park, I arrived at Bayland Park and toyed with the idea of walking to the top of the Fred Hartman Bridge again, but passed on the idea as my bandanna was totally soaked and half of my water was depleted, so turning around I retraced my steps.

Another day hike completed and I felt the deep satisfaction I always experience when I push myself to get off my duff and out into the Texas heat.

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