Trail of the Bison

I hiked roughly a mile along a trail at Payne’s Prairie when I knew it would be a special day in the wild. Everyone was, but this would be the day I’d see a bison in its home habitat.

It was a warm morning and I started to sweat.I  First it was the two large, brown creatures moving about a distance ahead of me. I could not tell if they were horses or bison, so I zoomed in with my digital camera. Though it was still difficult to identify the species, the apparent hump on the back and the numerous tracks lead me to believe I was on the trail of two bison.

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A zoom shot of two bison.

Being in nature partly inspires me to write. When I’m out hiking or kayaking, I imagine being in another place. When kayaking in the Okefenokee Swamp, I pretended to be with dinosaurs, which were alligators. While exploring the islands in Key West, I was among dragons, which turned out to be healthy iguanas.  The unexpectedness that comes with hiking in a wilderness gets my blood rushing. There is always a chance to witness something original. Capturing nature and its inhabitants in photos gives me a moment to remember and something to reflect on years ahead.Every picture and observation is unique. When I spend time out in the wilderness, I look for more than what is evident in nature and the wildlife. Personal perception has allowed me to look more deeply into nature, and as a result, I have gained more respect for it and deeper understanding of it, all while finding motivation to write about it. There is a story in every nonhuman species, as it is a story in every human being. Being in their environment enables me to connect with what these creatures have to endure to survive. As humans, they need food to survive, to protect their loved ones, themselves, and their home. In return, I develop a higher appreciation for wildlife and their environment. As the wilderness is consumed by climate change and littering, part of me goes with it.

It is the night before setting out on my hike, and I decide to wander astray from camp. Seeing the sun setting, I strode in the direction of a nearby lake to watch. Along the way, I am rewarded with the moon below, which promises to be a bright night.

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The moon before night

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Rowers practice as the sunsets.

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The moon made it easy to hike during the night.

 

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The moon through trees.

After warming by the fire, consuming coffee and some grits, it was time to go hiking. Along my hike , I find more evidence of where the bison roamed. My feet sunk into the mud as I trudged further.

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Bison tracks in the mud

I saw more than a strong bison staring at me. Standing before me shy of fifty yards, was a parent and a friend of other bison, wondering what I and others were doing walking through its home.The horns and muscular back and head was nearly as long as a six-foot tall human. When looking through my camera using the zoom, I saw curiosity and concern in its eyes. It trotted into the marsh where another bison had disappeared. On passing along the path, their hooves sloshed around in the marsh, but they were unseen.

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One of two bison I encountered.

More bison would appear, and prove they too, enjoy sun bathing in the marshy terrain.

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Two bison in the marsh.

Tracking bison lead me to witness other members of the prairie’s habitat, such as this beautiful dinosaur below:

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This alligator was hid well in the swamp and trees, making it difficult to capture his entire large body.

 

More of the prairie’s inhabitants came out to do their business.

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A horse drinking from the marsh.

 

The only way back to the start of the hike was to walk by one of five horses. As I did, the black beauty below trotted toward me, staring at me. My heart skipped a beat when the thought of it raising on its back legs and smashing me with its hooves crossed my mind. Instead it watched me walk on.

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One of five horses.

 

 

 

 

My experience trekking through the prairie further connected me to the world outside of  my daily routine, the hustle and bustle of traffic, the everyday reliance on my cell phone, work, and vehicle. My perception broadened about the significance the environment is to both human and nonhuman species. The creatures who roam, eat, drink, bathe, in the wilderness have stories as humans do.

Some other sights during the hike:

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