Talk about beauty and the beast! That’s how it felt when I went for what was billed as a nature walk with a couple of young friends over the weekend.

Green Lakes beachWe went to the lovely Green Lakes State Park, a place where I’m not sure if I’ve ever been before because nothing looked familiar to me. It’s somewhere on the outskirts of Fayetteville. I say it that way because my friend Sunny, the same one I went on my first and second visit with to the B’Ville Diner, was the leader of the walk and also drove out there since I had no idea where it was.

When we got there I took the shot above, which shows no one around. It was around 9:30 in the morning and I learned that swimming wasn’t allowed until later. So it was us along with other runners and walkers that decided to take advantage of the great looking day, early enough to beat the heat and sparse enough so they could get their run and walk on before the crowds came. Of course, I had no idea what I was in store for, as I hadn’t been on a nature walk of any kind in more than 20 years.

Green Lakes has multiple trails, and I’m not even going to pretend to know what most of them are. I do know that if you stick to the trails eventually you come upon trail markers with different colors at the top, and Sunny had plotted out a course for us. The third person in our group was Lauren, another young person who I met just that day.

We started out walking along the lake, and it was a beautiful walk. I really hadn’t expected that we would be walking on a trail, thinking we were going to be hiking more than walking; either way, I wasn’t ready for it. It was nice and easy along the lake, although early on we had to watch our footing because there’s not tons of space between the path and the lake, and it was a little slippery. But it was beautiful, and at different times we stopped to take some of the images you see in this post.

Then we left the lake and Sunny became a masochist; she did! Suddenly we were walking up, and up and up. It wasn’t overly steep, but it kept going far longer than I was prepared for. I walk a lot, but my walks are fairly level and even.

In this case I started hearing my heart in my head; that’s never a good sign if you ask me. Eventually we reached a part where there was a bench, and of course I took advantage of that for a bit of a rest. The image you see in blue and green was my attempt to take a shot at the leaves of the trees against the sky; it’s still pretty cool even if you’re not easily able to tell that those are leaves.

Throughout the walk there were more inclines than declines, and my thighs were killing me. Then we came upon something that’s called Hernia Hill. When I’d heard about it after we started walking I was somewhat worried about it. Now I could see why, but we were also pretty lucky because we came upon it going down rather than going up. But it was really steep and not easy to walk, having to go sideways because there’s this little trench down the middle that, if you hit it wrong, you’re going to injure yourself.

At one point we actually found our way out of the woods and ended up on a dirt road. It turns out we had found the maintenance area for the golf course, which I didn’t know existed, and eventually we ended up on the golf course as well; actually, I sat on the bench next to the 17th green catching my breath while Sunny recalibrated where we were. We eventually found our way back into the woods and kept going.

Of course, all the time we’re walking, with me struggling, we would have what I’m calling the “pretty” people run by us, the guys without shirts and the ladies wearing, well, not much, looking great and handling the terrain perfectly. I asked Sunny a few times if I could trip one of them and she said no; I was just looking for a little bit of justice. lol And at ons point we came upon a couple that was walking St. Bernard’s, and the larger of the two was barely making it, huffing and puffing louder than I had been, although they had walked a much shorter distance than we had. The large one also kept looking back at me and I said to him, though he couldn’t hear me, “I know what you’re saying Buddy but you’re on your own.”

Eventually we got near water again and that made me ecstatic, only to learn that we were on the other side of the lake; ugh! However, now it was relatively flat, and it was still relatively cool, and the rest of the walk on the trail was fairly easy. We came out of the walk on the other side of the beach and there were lots of people there; after all, we had walked almost 3 hours.

No one was as glad the walk was over as I was. Though the company was great, the body wasn’t having a heck of a lot of fun. It’s been saying things to me I’d rather not deal with over the last couple of days, to the effect that even minor pain medications haven’t quite relieved things yet. Still, I’m glad I did the walk, if only to prove that I could do it. But I can honestly say that when we stopped at a convenience store on the way home and I got some ice water that it never tasted any better than it did right then and there.

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