Monday, January 22, 2024

Hike No. 3: Lost in Lockport


Another weekend, another hike! Well, we missed one weekend because of snow. However now we are back in the saddle.

I am talking about the Western New York Winter Hiking Challenge which I have foolishly undertaken with my friend Barbara. This time we attempted the Lockport Nature Trails. Her sister Laura went with us. That is Laura with the sign in the pic up above!

The map on the sign looks simple. It is not. I said to Barbara, every time we do this I sit down beforehand to study the map we are given, and I research the park. I watch videos on it. I read up on it online. And every week, I cannot believe how little use all this preparation is.

We get lost, immediately!

The Lockport Nature Trails looked easy. The hike route went in a loop. I printed it out beforehand, took a yellow highlighter, and went over it. A simple loop. There was a Kiosk on the map and I marked that. Not that I expected the Kiosk to have any facilities, or any hot cider, or anything you would think a Kiosk might have. Parks in the Buffalo area love to leave you helpless. However it was a landmark. Speaking of landmarks, the one we were looking for, the one we were supposed to take a selfie with, was an Oak Tree. I marked that also.

Two other oak trees were marked on the map and I made note of that.

What could possibly go wrong? Easy as pie.


As soon as we walked into the snowy park, one trail kind of blurred in with another. 


I mean, I ask you. Nothing was marked. Well, Laura noticed there were signs on trees. However the signs were faded and all looked alike. It was like Hansel and Gretel without the bread crumbs.

Luckily Laura kept her cool. She is a photo editor and not only did she notice the signs on the trees, but she noticed the Oak Tree when, after much travail, we reached it.

I had expected the Oak would stand out. However Laura pointed to a tree among many trees and said that could be it.

"That's not an oak tree," I said confidently. The oak trees I know all have big wide trunks and spread-out branches. Like the Mighty Oak in the Meadow in Delaware Park. Or the Sacred Oak that St. Boniface cut down when he converted the German people to the Christian faith.

Shows how much I know. This ended up indeed being the oak. St. Boniface would not have bothered with this oak, I will tell you that right now. Still I had to acknowledge it as the landmark we were looking for. And I ate crow. I also ate more crow a while later when I failed to recognize a view we had just seen 15 minutes before, and almost cost us God knows how many extra steps. I had completely lost my sense of direction!

However I ate crow happily. We had reached the oak tree. I had my selfie! Here I am with the unprepossessing oak tree.


We never did find the Kiosk.

The views, I have to say, were beautiful. And I enjoyed the day. Hiking is fun. As was walking with two people I do not know all that well. We talk about this and that. Taking a walk is like doing a jigsaw puzzle in that the conversation just goes this way and that way.

One thing we got onto was poetry. Barbara and I began fitting together Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening." Once we figured it all out we recited it .. and those last lines: "And miles to go before I sleep / And miles to go before I sleep" -- never sounded lovelier than in this park, on this trail. God knows where we were, however it must have looked something like what Robert Frost had in mind.

I hope kids still have to read this poem in school, you know? What beautiful writing.

The park even included a half-frozen waterfall. I was trying to take pictures but my hands got too cold. So you will have to settle for this. I think this is another picture of the oak.

The Lockport Nature Trails.

We came, we saw, we conquered!

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