When I arrive at Marshall Park, three Varied Thrushes scatter from the trail-head into the trees. I walk down to the bridge, over the creek, past the playground and up the trail—hopefully on my way to Tryon Creek State Park. Last time I got lost and wandered along a thin, overgrown deer trail with the absurd notion that this trail on a map of walking routes put out by the city, is simply not well used.
As I descend toward the creek I see a trail on the other side I hadn’t noticed before. I realize this is where the path became unreliable before so I cross the wide log over the creek and follow the new trail along the water and up the bank to the road.
A couple blocks away is the trail-head into Tryon. The woods feel open where the creek winds through a wide marshy area, especially without the leaves of the deciduous trees filling in the space.
I walk through the park admiring the maple blossoms and budding leaves springing up right next to the remnants of fall: old seedpods still hanging on the branches, leaves stuck in the cruxes.
Above me, Chestnut-backed Chickadees sing to each other in a cloud of high-pitched chatter. One peeks over a mossy branch before darting off into the high branches. Down the trail I find a sunny bench to have lunch on while listening to a barred owl sing and watching people walk their dogs past. I eat two bread heels out of a bread bag identical to the one my sandwich is in at home in the fridge.
On the way back I startle several more groups of Varied Thrushes, the bold black and white stripes on the underside of their wings striking against the deep greens of the forest. A female perches next to a broken branch right above the trail, her lovely orange breast the exact same color as the inside of the tree where it has broken.
I cross the log again and head up the hill, noticing this part of the trail is in a process of erosion, which makes it unlikely to be a city-sanctioned trail. I pass an unmarked fork farther up and get out my map to check my route. This was my wrong turn. I was supposed to take the narrower trail to the street.
I’m sad that the use of this enchanting path is not good for the creek and all the life it supports, I was looking forward to coming back but I don’t want to wreck one a the few natural areas in the city.
I walk the rest of the way home and eat my sandwich finally. It tastes all the better for having been missed.