We made plans to hike the Empire Bluffs trail with our friends yesterday. We most recently walked the path back in super-snowy February, but Jim and Jess (and Jackson too) hadn’t been since the fall, and yesterday’s temperate weather seemed perfect for the short trek.
The journey is quite different in late May than three months prior. For one, you can see the trail, but for two, the woods are so green. The entire path is crushed gravel punctuated with 4×4’s that serve as erosion control and stairs.
It winds over gentle hills through beech-maple-ash trees that tower over blankets of violets, (aging) trillium and ramps (wild leeks).
We clipped along at a decent pace – set by four-year-old Jackson – in the gender-divided groups that we seem to form: Tony and Jim lost in music/programming discussion and Jess and me talking about all the most important things…and Jackson settling in wherever he was happiest. And then, even though I had just declared the previous day that we were done mushroom hunting for the season, I spotted a lovely grey morel just a few feet from the trail.
As these things go, we immediately descended into the woods, tossing aside our plans for the hike in favor of ‘shrooming. This impromptu hunt was some of the most fun we’ve had finding morels this year. We each found a few, we never went long in between finds, and we left the woods with a nice mess that we sautéed after dinner. Mmmmmm.
We didn’t linger overly long in the undergrowth, since we did still want to see the overlook. When the finding petered out, we angled back to the path and meandered out to the overlook. The trail was fairly busy, but we arrived at the big view just as the previous group was leaving. The five of us soaked in the views for about fifteen minutes before anyone else showed up.
Since we didn’t get distracted by errant morels, the return leg of the hike was much quicker. Also, Jackson and I ran most of the way because he was over the woods time, wanting instead to be at the beach playing in sand. Jim, Jess, and Jackson finished out the afternoon on the chilly (breezes blowing in over a very cold lake do that) Empire Beach, and Tony and I rode about two-and-a-half more miles on the longboards. All in all, satisfactory 🙂