Walking Journal / Walking

Walk 8 – Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve

. 3 min read . Written by Russell Smith
Walk 8 – Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve

The wildest walk yet

My first walk outside Louisville-Jefferson County. The Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve sits in Oldham County, about seven minutes outside Louisville. This is also my first walk that I started in the afternoon; I couldn’t break away beforehand. I almost didn’t come today. The weather reports called for heavy rain and storms all afternoon. I did come, and walked for an hour. Then, as soon as I sat down to record some thoughts, the rains and the storms came. So I sat in my car for an hour. The rain passed and I walked for another hour.

This walk felt wilder than previous ones. I spotted a few deer – three at least – on the footpaths and many frogs and turtles in a small pond. With the rains, the paths became muddy and slick. I brought my walking stick with me for the first time today – an inspired call. The paths do not have clear markings. I had a sensation akin to feeling lost, except that I remained on a well-worn path that, surely, must lead me back to the visitor’s area at some point. And yet, in a Waze and Google Maps world, I felt more physically lost on this walk than I have felt in a decade. I almost wrote “deliciously lost” for I savored the impression almost like a worthy meal, an adventure of the senses – beyond the bounds of usual life. I sought out a waterfall noted on the Preserve maps, but could not come upon it. I want to return to gaze upon that waterfall.

The summer verdure shone bright between the rains. But peering inside, the view became thick and dark and huddled. Life, all life and death, in bright light and canopied shadow – obvious life and dank death decaying in reverse into life again.

Why in this moment of life do I seek out nature? Why have I come here? Why alone? It’s not an especially smart idea, but I have told my wife about none of the locations of these walks beforehand. Why do I seek solitude after three decades of city life and sweeping sociability, rarely considering the natural, wild world? Again, I kept asking myself: what brings me here? Why do I undertake these walks in nature? What calls to me, entices me, warms me, warns me?

Thinking and feeling, but mostly hard, squishy step following step. I enjoyed this moment more than reflected on it. G.K. Chesterton wrote that “The real difficulty of man is not to enjoy lamp-posts or landscapes, not to enjoy dandelions or chops; but to enjoy enjoyment.” Today, I simply enjoyed what I liked.