Guest post by FaN Club Dad -Nkrumah Frazier
Spring is well on its way. This past Saturday I did a 12 mile patrol of the wilderness section of the Black Creek Hiking Trail. Despite it being mid to late February I saw lots of signs that spring is near. One of the first things that I noticed was the various plants with buds starting to emerge prior to the actual leaves growing on the branches.
It was apparent that mother nature knew something that I didn’t. Intellectually and logically I was thinking it’s still mid February I wasn’t expecting to see signs of spring just yet. Then I saw something that looked out of place down the trail. It was a small hint of color.
After I got a little closer I was enamored with an all too familiar sight. It was a butterfly! Already this early in the year? A butterfly! This one was in the family known as sulfurs. If you’ve spent any amount of time in Mississippi during the summer you’ve seen countless numbers of these seemingly shy butterflies. They rarely ever let you get close enough to get a good look at them and this one was no different. It flitted away before I was 15 feet away.
As I continued on my way I rounded a bend and saw a large group of Boy Scouts in the distance. But before I could reach the group something else caught my eye. There was something hanging from a tree.
This trash bag was left suspended from this tree since I was not on my way back to the trail head I decided to leave it there, inquire about it with the Boy Scout group and pick it up on the way back. When I reached the large group of Boy Scouts I inquired about the trash bag hanging from the tree. I counted that there was over 30 individuals in this group and talked to them about about the group size limits and Leave No Trace ethics. They then told me that they were actually 3 smaller groups that just decided to come together for lunch. One group headed out while I was there talking with them.
About 5-10 minutes further down the trail I encountered a couple that was looking for a good place to camp near the water so that they could camp and do some fishing. I pulled out my trusty smart phone and opened the new app (ViewRanger GPS) that I was testing to see how useful it could be on short day hikes. When I opened up the app I was able to point them to an area of the trail that went pretty close to a wonderful “peninsula” created by Black Creek that had a wonderful sandbar on it. I had never ventured down to that particular sandbar myself but from the satellite imagery on the app it looked pretty promising. I encouraged them to follow Leave No Trace ethics especially those for camping near water. They then thanked me and were on their way.
Just a little further down the trail I passed by an old oxbow lake and stopped to check it briefly before continuing on to the confluence of Beaverdam Creek and Black Creek where I stopped for lunch. My lunch date (a turtle) and I seemed to check each other out from opposite sides of the water. It perched on a log and me sitting on the sand. As I ate my lunch I contemplated the rest of my day and the natural beauty of my surroundings. After finishing my lunch I hung around for a few more minutes taking pictures and enjoying the area.
Finally I got up gathered all of my gear and prepared to hike the almost 6 miles back to the trail head. Along the way back I took time to stop and take in a few sights that I had passed up on the way. Partly because I was tired but mostly because I truly love to “stop and smell the roses”. I share Alice Walker’s sentiments from “The Color Purple” when she wrote “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” I believe that part of the reason for all of the subtle and not so subtle beauty, the intricate designs, the perplex relationships of the natural world is for us to notice, admire and to be pleased at it’s existence.