Hiking Lake Lansing

Chris had been gone an entire week building up his store, which meant I had the house to myself! That was only cool for about eight hours. I missed him terribly and our pets have this stressful habit of acting out when there’s a long-term change. Daddy’s missing, and I’m not cool with it. And so, over one of our late-night phone calls, we planned to have a day to ourselves when he got back, and take our next hike.

The drive to the lake was my favorite. We headed out on an early Sunday morning, when many homes were still sleeping or getting around for church service. With a coffee to-go, we had the roads to ourselves as it curved around the lake, passing only active adults and moms running solo or with partners in fun neon fitwear. 

We parked the car by the lake, and walked to other side of the road for the trailhead. A young couple headed out in front of us, in cozy warm sweats and a thermos of coffee. They had brought their silky golden retriever and cocker spaniel with them, and I was jumping inside to be sharing the trail. They soon lost us, however. They knew these trails, and knew them well.

The preserve was 530 acres, giving our minds an easy escape. The trail was mild, but winding, and we stopped frequently to read the interpretive signs. We learned the patches of tall grasses in marshes aren’t tall grasses at all, but invasive phragmites threatening the health of wetlands.

A runner went by, with her unleashed dog running behind her. I love that—dogs so loyal and trained they're rockstars off the leash. He (or she) went right by the two of us as if we weren't there, totally undistracted by all the sights and smells. Chris and I gawked at each other, wondering what that life's like. Our dog adopts anyone as her own. You run by? She'll turn right around and run along with you, excited by her new pal.

Along the way, we spotted squirrels, chipmunks, and an awesome wood pecker tapping a tree for breakfast. We also crossed paths with an arborist, who told us he loved walking through here seasonally, just to observe change in the trees. He said there would be a crown gall coming up ahead, so big it's hard to miss. I felt like a child on a scavenger hunt the moment we spotted it. The growth was huge, and equally mystifying as it was sad.

At one point, we realized we missed our original turn-off! Every lost-in-the-woods joke started rolling out, and we laughed about starving, looping the same path until dark.

Everything was cool though, and we soon hit our turn-off and came across a deer bed near the end of the trail. Growing up in a northern forest, I was used to finding them when we'd play, and deer alone wasn't rare as you can imagine. In fact, it was so ordinary, we all grew up subconsciously driving with our eyes peeled so as not to hit any leaping into the road. Now after several years of city living, looking at that bed brought me such peace, such a warm, fuzzy feeling, and I was excited to show Chris who hadn't seen one before.

I’m finding a major draw to hiking is the act of being submerged in a natural area. With nothing to do but watch your footing and look in every direction around you, there’s a mental freedom I wasn't expecting. I simply wasn’t tuning in to the insane agenda that was on my desk back at home. Again, you don't need any hiking gear to get out in the wild. Heck, I was hiking in the coziest Uggs I own. The gear will come with time, so right now it's about being alone together—getting away from our current overcrowded life and reconnecting with each other.

Read more about why we started hiking here.

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