Quick escapes are important. We know how to find exits in buildings, crowds, and cities, for the more obvious reason of needing to get out of physical harm's way. But we also sometimes need those exits for reasons that aren't always so obvious - even to ourselves - and which take on a more mental approach to harm. Who hasn't felt "cooped up" in an office before? Or on the verge of having a little "cabin fever?" There are just times when a change in scenery or location is needed... STAT!
Saddle Lake, on the way up to Hardy Mountain and just on the fringes of the city limits, has been my quick escape for the past couple of years. It's simple to get to and has an amazing amount of variety in a fairly small space... as far as small spaces in this area of big spaces goes. Within minutes, you can be sitting on a grassy hill and overlooking a gorgeous valley, hiking an easy trail into a shaded forest, or sitting by a reed-lined, wildlife-infused small lake. I've watched clouds float silently overhead and seen a golden eagle fly by at eye level. It's really quite amazing.
The greatest part is that in all the time I've been exploring the area, I haven't shared it at the same time with any other humans except for those who I've gone up there with. It's isolated, without being remote. And that works well on days when you are escaping the office for a quick break or answering to the call of fresh air and perfect cloud formations.
Sometimes, just as you think you're ready to leave, the crazy calls of water birds grab your attention. And sitting behind a bank of reeds and bulrushes for over an hour seems like no time at all because you get caught up in the sights and sounds of what feels like some alternate universe. Even when you start to feel the dampness of the earth through your jeans, you refuse to budge because what if another different bird shows up that you haven't seen yet? There are so many!
Then, you realize you aren't the only watcher out there, as some strange, floating feathered creature starts to watch you back. And finally, you decide to go and let this wonderful place be in it's true isolation again... knowing that, if needed, a quick escape isn't far away.
And next time, I'm bringing my bird identification book!