On Top of the Bluff

John Lastch 126After spending several minutes enjoying the view, we continued on a trail that went along the bluff ridge. A few people had gone down that trail, but soon came back. Jesse asked a couple if the trail ended shortly after the overlook. The woman said it did, or at least it got a little rough, overgrown. Undeterred by this and driven on by curiosity, Jesse plunged ahead anyway. I was a little more reluctant, but figured we’d go just as far as everyone else had done. We left the rock platform, stepped onto a small dirt path which went through a prairie meadow for many feet. Again I was distracted by the flowers on either side of me, purples, blues and yellows swaying in the wind. I thought Jesse would stop where it started to get overgrown (where the others had turned around). Instead he kept going, desiring to see more. I admired him for this, however, when the trail became covered in thorny brambles, I was hesitant to keep going. Jesse though, was already a ways ahead of me and nearly out of sight.

John Lastch 136The trail went into woods. I asked, “Should we really keep going?” He assured, “the trail gets easier again in here.” I pushed through the thorns, which clawed at my legs, as fast as I could, then stepped into the woods after Jesse, admiring the character of the trees. Soaking in the beauty of the underbrush combined with the trees around me. Tiny, tan mushrooms grew on a tree leaning across the trail. Twisted, dead trees and tangled windfalls caught my attention. Though dead, they were still quite lovely. I was intrigued by moss growing on the bottom of a tree trunk. Small, yellow mushrooms grew along the path.

John Lastch 140Jesse paused to wait for me, pointing out a large fallen tree that bridged a deep ravine. I stood in awe of the tree, exclaiming at how wonderful it was, and so big. Driven by my love and connection with trees, I had to climb up and out on it. I fell instantly in love with the tree. Its mossy clothes provided a soft place to sit, and it was so wide, it felt safe. I wished to have a tree like this at home. The gaping ravine below, this location made me like the spot on the tree trunk even more. I felt relaxed, at peace on the tree trunk, and desired to linger there. It would have been a perfect spot to sit, reading, writing, drawing, or just thinking.  With a little bit of sadness, I crawled off the tree trunk, but hoped of visiting it again.

John Lastch 152After leaving the lovely fallen tree, the woods became denser, the trees grew closer together. And still on Jesse walked, I followed slowly behind, distracted by the beauty surrounding us, and yet taking fewer photos. Gray, coral like mushrooms near the path, were intriguing. We ducked under low branches, and stepped around fallen limbs in the path. Our trail curved around, we started going to the right for awhile. A few times I nearly stumbled on branches I could barely step over. I was tired and growing very weary. I was ready to be done exploring. Yes, me, the person who sees woods while driving by and very much desires to stop the car to go exploring, I was tired of exploring. The trail had become increasingly smaller, overgrown, and now hard to tell if it was a trail we were supposed to be on. I asked Jesse if we could go back, again very unlike me. After several more steps, Jesse consented that we probably should stop.

John Lastch 177With that we turned around and retraced our steps. I was in the lead for only a couple of moments before Jesse overtook and passed me by. I stayed closer behind him on the way back, though I still paused to photograph the splendor of the Creator that was all around us, such as a birch tree that Jesse described as having exploded, four trunks stood, leaning back forming a “V”, combined with the black and white contrast of the bark, we couldn’t help but linger and stand in awe (enthralled) by its majesty.

John Lastch 178Small, yet grand things caught my attention and wonder too. A daddy long leg played peek-boo with me between bramble leaves. I stooped down to see from her perspective. Noting the grace and loveliness of her eight silk like legs, that few people think to admire. Back at the rocky overlook, I knelt down to soak in the beauty of these large, exposed rocks. We paused again at the overlook for several minutes to enjoy the stunning view one more time before our descent into the valley. To soak in, and imprint such beauty into our souls to carry with us as we go about our daily lives. Such beauty could only be appreciated, indeed was only possible by through hard work. Once more I admired the grass and flower mixture of a meadow of sorts, who can describe the beauty we observed? I marveled yet another dead snag.

John Lastch 207Jesse and I started the downward hike, admiring every birch tree along the path. Below the overlook, we paused to look behind us, marveling at the great stones that held it up. Then we looked out over the tree tops on the other bluff before us. Going down was much easier; we went more at a scamper. We came once more to the meadow on the side of the bluff. The breeze had picked up, the bobbing cone flowers did more than just sway, rather they danced wildly in the wind.

John Lastch 219My legs began to feel shaky. Several steps more and they were wobbling. Jesse’s legs were also shaky. A small tree grew next to the railing on the stairs; actually it started to grow into and around the railing, appearing like it was eating the railing. Fairy like, white mushrooms were a beautiful contrast to the green moss on the log they grew on. Spider webs intricately spun were draped along the side of the stairs. Down the stairs twisted and turned, but finally just one more turn to the bottom. Our legs were now like rubber. We finally stepped off the last stair. We added John Latsch State Park to our list of parks we have explored together and talked of returning in the autumn.John Lastch 235

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