These are my feet. They’re special.
Yeah, they’re funky looking, with their long, skinny and broken toes; they’re flat, and pigeon-toed.
But they’re strong, diligent, willing to take on a challenge. They’re not afraid of sharp rocks or itchy grass, they’re not afraid of mud or bugs or water. They are fearless feet. They can cover any kind of terrain, from mountains to beaches, in fields and back yards; these feet are All-Terrain Feet.
Fearless All-Terrain Feet.
Last weekend they took me to Elk Neck State Park in North East, Md. I camped on the beaver marsh, on a 2-mile loop trail that wound east down to this beach on the Elk River, and then continued through the woods and around the entire marsh.
There was no one on the trail or the beach this particular Saturday morning, but there were signs of people everywhere — Styrofoam food containers, plastic bottle tops, a forgotten sand-covered shoe, red Solo cups…
At the far end of this beach I encountered an obstacle where the river and the marsh meet. Luckily, the tides had conveniently pushed a pile of logs into that spot. It looks sturdy but it’s not. I climbed out but all of the logs rocked back and forth, putting my camera in a precarious situation. I also decided I didn’t want to spend the rest of the hike in wet boots, so I took my shoes off to wade out to the big log and jump over to the other side, my All-Terrain Feet no worse off from one side to the other.
In the murk of this area, I saw this cruddy little spot where flotsam has collected and the strangest thing was the number of butterfly wings that accumulated here. I couldn’t fit them all into one photo, floating like little yellow flower petals on top of the stagnant water.
The other side was reinforced with riprap, where I sat to let my feet dry before putting my boots back on, and I could see the swamp — where you’re not supposed to swim…
This was an ideal spot for a quiet rest because the birds use that area like a main highway. I saw and heard a lot of herons. I tried to take the photos but my equipment isn’t right for fast-moving birds.
However, I caught this heron sitting in the tree behind me — only for an instant, before he flew off to go fishing.
I saw eagles, red-winged black birds, ospreys, countless ducks and hundreds of little birds I wouldn’t be able to name, all singing and calling to one another like a symphony, punctuated by the rhythm of croaking frogs and toads.
The cacophony was a soundtrack to the peaceful walk around the marsh, which boasts a working beaver lodge in the center.
I found all sorts of wonderful things on the hike, like lonely mushrooms, flitting bugs, fern-carpeted forests, deep ravines and aged trees.
I stopped more than once to take pictures and just listen to the sound of life, absent of humans.
My favorite spot was almost directly across the marsh from my camp, where I found this bench, carved on by countless boys and girls with declarations of their love, markings of their existence in this spot at some lost time in history.
I almost forgot my stick there, but after walking into one spiderweb, returned the short distance to get my trusty friend. That stick, although functional for balance on the tougher parts of the difficult trail, truly served its purpose as a get-these-darn-gross-sticky-spiderwebs-out-of-my-face stick, and I walked much of the two miles waving it around in front of my face. Being the first person on the trail can have its disadvantages. It was also repurposed through some sections as a oh-jeez-ouch-that’s-a-thorn-bush stick.
I spent the rest of the weekend swimming in the Chesapeake Bay, wading through the Bay grasses and floating on the water, relaxing at my site with a good book, kayaking the Elk River with the park rangers, and biking out to the Turkey Point Lighthouse. That trail was rated as an easy beginner trail, but actually turned out to be quite treacherous with steep, rocky runs in both directions.
At the lowest point, the land met the Bay where I meditated on the water for a while. I sat by this log and noticed this little tuft of grass growing from a crack, and I was struck by the way life can take root anywhere, surviving in the strangest places and oddest circumstances.
Getting back on my bike I realized I blew out my back tire on the rocks. I ended up walking my bike up the other half of the trail.
Of course, I didn’t mind, I have Fearless All-Terrain Feet — it was just one more leg in the journey. And I can’t wait for another opportunity to put my Fearless All-Terrain Feet to the test and see where they will take me next.