Sam and I have a collection of adventures that we want to reinvestigate. We find them without enough time and preparation to really give them the full test and then it takes us a while to get back. They are all beautiful places that left us wanting to stay, explore, and take time to truly appreciate the view, the wildlife, the plant life, or the remoteness. Otter Creek catapulted itself into this little collection of ours after we did a day trip there just a few weeks ago.
Otter Creek Wilderness in early spring:
We arrive sometime around 1:30 p.m. and take off up the trail. It is one of those days where you are pretty certain you will get rained on but you go on the adventure anyways because you’ve never been there before and because you’ve heard great things about the spot and because hiking out wet is terrible but not doing the hike is worse. The first part of the hike is mellow; we walk down a gravel path that leads us to a suspension bridge. It rocks as we cross.
Once across the bridge the trail becomes difficult for about a quarter mile. The ground slides under our feet and the rocks are slick. Our caked boots do very little to find traction. After a little ways the trail veers away from the creek for a moment and leads us to an old rail grade. As we walk, we find all sorts of interesting plants; strange things that are purple and green and fuchsia.
The rail grade leads us to a creek crossing. The water from the spring rain is big and we struggle to stay out of it as we hop rocks across. There is moss creeping and the fiddle heads uncurl around us. As our elevation increases the trillium start to turn their heads to us. We trace the creek on our trail. There are lots of little cascades. I look across the creek at some point and see a meadow of tiny purple flowers growing out of a rocky beach. This place is pretty.
We hike on, finding cool little bits of the timbering history as we go. After a while we come around a bend in the trail that takes us about a hundred yards from the creek. In front of us is a sea of purple, pink, white, yellow, and fuchsia wild flowers. The trees above are umbrellas for all of their little faces. I want to lay in them and breathe in their pretty, light smell. I think, “I could live here with all of you.”
We are running out of daylight so we decide we will turn around when the trail meets back up with the creek. We reach our turnaround spot and between the trail and the creek there is a small camp site. We walk down the path and I get out some snacks. Sam wanders down the creek a ways. When he comes back he says, “You have to come check this out!” I follow him to the prettiest pebble beach. There is a big turn in the stream that hugs the spot.
I don’t want to leave but the real world is calling. This is not one of those adventures that land us in some state of exhaustion and frustration. The hike out is easy and fast. We watch the flowers wiz by us and are nearly out when raindrops start to fall on our heads.
We cross the swinging bridge back to the car. But really, we cross the swinging bridge back to work, bills, peanut-butter-sandwich-breakfasts, late-night freezer meals, 5 a.m. mornings that lead to 1 a.m. nights, and all of the parts of our very full lives. We take each day and we pack it as full as possible. It is not pretty; it is tiring. A lot of times, it is challenging to get motivated. The answer to being motivated is built by doing, constantly doing.
Our full days are why we have a collection of adventures that need to be done over again. We had other things that had to get done but one of these days, we will go back and do Otter Creek and all of our other projects the way they should be done: with backpacks, sweat, tents, food made with a camp stove, tired legs, sore shoulders, waking up to see the mist burning off the river and smelling the dew settle in, and all of the things we missed when we were filling our days with constant doing.