Hiking,  Outdoors,  Thoughts

Respite on Drakes Creek


It was oppressively hot this weekend, as it has been for the last two weeks. Spring, our wonderfully mild spring, went *poof* once the calendar hit June. I’m glad we had such mild temperatures for so long, it made being outside much more enjoyable. Now? I’m re-thinking my twice daily laps around the yard at work. Opening the office door this last week has been met with the feeling of the inside of a furnace. So much for the pleasant tour about the yard looking for wildlife–I’m now hurrying to get my steps in and stretch my legs and back inside to the cool AC. Even outside time after dinner these days means that I wait until at least 7pm to wander around the yard and water plants.

That hasn’t stopped Chris and I from getting out and hiking the last two weekends. I mean, we weren’t pounding out 10 mile hikes or anything. The longest hike two weekends ago was nearly 3 miles at Gus Engeling WMA and we did almost 2 miles in Louisiana this last weekend. The rest of the time we were doing short jaunts from the truck into bogs or areas we wanted to investigate, 100-200 yards from the truck, and then returning to the truck with the air conditioning full blast after. There’s nothing so good as guzzling lemon-lime Gatorade and eating pre-cut strawberries and pineapples that had been chilled in the cooler when you are drenched in sweat, and covered in scratches and bug bites from bushwhacking!

We took off to Louisiana for two nights and days to explore the southern area of Kisatchie National Forest. Chris goes to Louisiana with some regularity and had already scoped out a few areas for us to explore. I’d been wanting to go see some of these areas myself, but with Forest it is a lot harder to bushwhack and deal with a cranky kid. Of course, this trip had to coincide with a time period of excessive heat warnings!

There was a lot to see, though even the bogs were pretty dry. Kisatchie NF is a well managed forest, and I found myself drooling over some delicious longleaf pine stands and wishing the Forest Service in Texas would take some advice from the folks managing the forest in Louisiana. We saw new to us plants and tried finding a few rare plants but came up empty. More planning, less heat might yield better results in the future.

In the afternoons I found myself pulled more to stopping and looking, wanting to pause and not move a lot. I mean, who wouldn’t in this heat? But it was enjoyable to listen to the birds and insects, and watch for insects on plants. If I didn’t have to move but could watch flowers for crab spiders and beetles, then I was thoroughly entertained! The photo above was alongside Drakes Creek, maybe 25 yards from the forest service road. Chris was looking for a freshwater lamprey species that has been known to be in this creek and I was just done with moving much so I sat on a tree root and watched ebony jewelwings and other damselflies darting around the water and vegetation. There were several areas we went that I wished I’d brought this little portable stool I got for Christmas with intentions to use it while sitting and doing plein air sketching–just so I could use it to sit and be still, to watch. I’ve often found myself wanting to sit all day in a place as the sun rises and sets just to see how the light falls across a space.

Louisiana was great–we will be back! But, maybe sometime when it is cooler!


  • Dennis Walsh

    Interesting read and yeah, outdoors in the summer can cook. May I suggest that you try a tour of Texas swimming holes in the heat, or more specifically the natural springs that are also swimming holes. Texas Monthly has, over the years, featured a Summer issue with the Texas Swimming Spots, so has TPWD on occasion. Happy Trails!

  • shoreacres

    What can I say? I haven’t been out and about in nature more than a couple of times in the past three weeks because of the heat. Of course, my issue is a little different. Since I work on the docks, I’m have to work “split shifts” — 7:30 until noon, and 4:30 until 7:00 — and then work the weekends too, to make up for lost hours. The good news is that I’m going to finish a huge project this week, and may get a little more flexibility with my next job. It’s smaller, and I can get more done in those morning hours. Even the mallards and gars have taken to the shade!

  • Patrice La Vigne

    I do think I am a weakling when it comes to the heat, and I don’t know how I ever lived in Phoenix for 4 years! Way to get out there though and make the most of your kid-free time!

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