Getting Lost in Black Creek Trail

The days were looking a lot brighter and calmer as they passed and I was feeling way better about everything than before. Today, the weather reported clear blue skies with nearly zero cloud coverage to obstruct the warm sun rays from above. Accompanying the sky’s appearance was a slight breeze and air that was neither dry nor laced with heavy humidity.

In short, it was a perfect day to explore and take photos along the way. I didn’t want to go to the usual parks this time as my mind was itching to photograph somewhere I’ve never been to before. Something that was hidden away from people and a natural sanctuary from society.

I consulted Google for such a place and stumbled upon Black Creek Trail & Park as my answer. While stuffing my bag with one of my cameras, an extra film roll, and some bug repellent, I noticed both of my dogs snoring away on the freshly made bed in my room. Perhaps this would be a great time to see if this park would be suitable for these two. They haven’t been out the house for days except to go to pet daycare…

I gave both dogs gentle belly rubs and promised to return back with good news about the park before departing to find this amazing place.

The entrance was hidden away on the side of the highway in such a way that anyone speeding would miss it or not have a chance to turn into it. I had spotted it multiple times while passing and now was the time to drive in and explore the area. Upon entering, I was greeted with heavy amounts of shade from all directions and a nearly empty parking lot. A lone public restroom station stood near some parking spaces and its appearance suggested nature’s complete conquering of its foundation. Moss, leaves, grass and branches covered the walls and a rusty water fountain stood near the restroom’s entrance.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve encountered a place with towering trees providing tons of shade, but it still a magnificent sight to see. Some trees showed their age in weathered, torn trunks and large roots growing through the paved trails while others displayed their youth in budding branches and lush leaves. A large wooden sign with a glass case depicted the park’s name, a map of the trails and a warning for all cyclists.

I spotted a few cyclists riding their bikes along the paved road, but no other persons were in sight. Probably because of today being a weekday and not a weekend. Either way, I was glad for the lack of human bodies and exited my car to apply a layer of bug repellent to my arms and legs. A feral cat passed by, only stopping to determine if I was a threat or not. I greeted it kindly, but it quickly sped off, not wanting to interact with me any longer. I shrugged, gathered my things and set off towards the large sign displaying the map.

Far left, the trail was rough and covered with roots emerging from the asphalt, fallen branches and wrinkled leaves. On the right, a much smoother paved trail was present with very little debris from the trees and bushes. But both were shaded by the enormous trees that curved forward to create natural “hoods” for visitors. I decided to start left to see what awaited me at the end. My sandals were kept on for the hike as the trail was too bumpy for me to walk barefoot.

The humidity increased as I continued and I soon stumbled onto an opening revealing a large lake with lush green trees in the distance. A large wooden bench was the only furniture present, its surface covered in unidentifiable graffiti from past visitors and deep grooves. The area was surrounded by swamps that buzzed with gnats, mosquitoes and such. For once, I was thankful that I remembered to use bug repellent before arrival and I slid my feet out from my sandals to test the water that washed up against the bench.

The water was clean, despite the many colonies of moss and fish that thrived in it. But too frigid for my skin as upon contact, I immediately yanked out my foot. So much for dipping my feet, ankles and hands in. I sighed, slipped my sandals back on and snapped a few photos before heading off.

I spotted a hidden trail labeled Palmetto’s Revenge and followed it, eager to see where it would lead me. Aging trees, curved branches, nearly barren bushes and plant debris littered the trail, but my eyes wandered around at the wonder of the local forest. In the distance, I heard cars and trucks speed by along the highway and I wished that there was something to block out the obnoxious sound that disrupted the peaceful silence of the trail.

I soon realized that the trail itself nearly encompassed one half of the entire park after arriving back at the parking lot. Two cyclists passed me from the far right, one slowing down to give me a subtle wave of recognition. I took a swig of water from my bottle and replaced the roll of film in my camera. So far so good. Time to see where the right takes me.

The trail was a lot smoother and paved, but I still kept my sandals on, worried that a sharp pebble or twig would pierce my toes. The trees had formed a cave-like barrier surrounding the bike trail and as midday approached, streams of sunlight poked in from small gaps above. A few times I stopped to snap photos, but the beauty of it all couldn’t be contained in a single photo. It was like walking through a large landscape painting…

After walking for a long while, it was time for some rest. Luckily, another lone bench was spotted and my feet found relief from the smooth pavement. This one was as weathered as the larger one in the swamp, but had less graffiti decorating its surface. I gently massaged my toes and rested for several minutes, listening to traffic outside and the singing of faraway birds. A couple and their two dogs passed by, the middle-aged man stopping to smile and wave at me. The dogs were engrossed in their surroundings and I knew deep down that this would be the perfect place for my dogs to run wild and be themselves, even for just an hour.

A detour caught my attention and I trailed off in the direction. I wandered around, only taking direction from small signs depicting arrows pointing in certain directions. As the trail stretched on, my feet ached from so many steps. But the noise of traffic was now far away and only the silence of the forest surrounded me. I noticed many fallen and uprooted trees in the distance and wondered how long they lasted before a great storm yanked them from the earth.

The air had gotten warmer from the midday sun and with little cloud coverage, my throat became dry and in need of another sip of water. No bugs touched my skin as the repellent was still doing its job, but my feet screamed at me for rest. Yet I couldn’t stop. I was distracted by all that was there to see. Plus, I was determined to finish this trail, no matter what.

I soon arrived at a clearing and cheered, only to realize that I ended up at the same large weathered bench in the swamp area from before. So this trail really does loop around. Kinda reminds me of Monhegan Island in a way. I plopped down into a small pile of sand to give my feet some relief and they couldn’t be more grateful for it. My stomach rumbled and I sighed. Time for lunch, but it would have to be at home. But what am I craving?

Not that it mattered; I would find something soon. But I took in the scenery while resting and just marveled at how beautiful the area was. Another area to add to my list of natural sanctuaries for peace and solitude. Everything seemed like it was preserved and kept clean, though I did spot some cans and containers in certain sections. Nothing that a simple trash picking during a walk couldn’t fix.

But my spirit felt renewed again. This was what I needed; a chance to leave the house and society for a while to rejuvenate in a natural environment. A place for me to connect to nature and ground myself for an hour. Or two.

My stomach rumbled again and I stood to collect my things and leave the park. I made a promise to bring the dogs with me next time for a walk. But only if they’re willing to behave themselves…

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