Edginess at the Edge of the Woods

Turkey Run State Park!

Another year, another family reunion, another long walk through the lush, jagged wilderness. Edges above us, edges below us, depending on which trail you’re negotiating with their intermittent, frequently incorrect trail markers and/or with their handy brochure map if you didn’t forget it in the car.

Turkey Run State Park!

On the Sunday after every Labor Day my wife’s family (her dad’s side) convenes at Turkey Run State Park, an hour west of Indianapolis in the middle of nowhere and dozens of miles away from the nearest phone signals. No internet, no phone games, no instant Instagramming, no weather updates, not even enough of a signal to text each other or call 911 if we take a wrong step and careen over the side of any given precipice. Turkey Run is a great place for kids to develop a healthy fear of nature’s dark side and gravity’s basic laws.

Turkey Run State Park!

That’s one of our nephews at far left, climbing over one of several rugged rock piles that are part of the Trail 2 experience.

This year I made the mistakes of leaving our copy of the map in the car and trusting my in-laws to play park rangers and guide us through the twists and turns. I have the park’s more popular, shorter trails memorized, but this time they decided to shepherd us toward one of the longer paths I’ve taken maybe once before. They’re good folks, rather healthy, used to hiking ten or fifteen miles at a stretch. My wife and I can do a couple miles here and there when properly motivated, such as when we’re at a convention and all the fun things are on opposite ends of the lengthy show floor, and our car is blocks away, and we also decide to crisscross the exhibit hall three more times in case we missed some nifty merchandise, and then we remember a booth we wanted to recheck in an entirely different hall, and so on. But convention center floors are flatter and less stressful than lumpy, clumpy, uneven, verdant, hilly, occasionally treacherous, all-natural ground floors.

Turkey Run State Park!

My brother-in-law’s heartbeat probably never rose above 50 bpm. Meanwhile at far right, that’s my wife dying. Wave hi to the nice wheezing lady!

Somewhere around the seventh cliffside crawl or the fourth mile — I forget which, because the afternoon is now a post-traumatic haze — I suspected they had no clear idea where we were headed and were basing our navigation not on logical compass directions but on whims that felt right to them and only them. When I sensed one fumbled intersection too many, I politely asked to see the map and quietly formed an action plan: follow the one big river back to where we started and refuse all attempts to turn away from it. Once we reached a crossroads where that very wrong idea was about to happen, we implemented Operation Schism, broke off from the main group, and got where we needed to go.

Turkey Run State Park!

One of the trail’s nicer edges, with a grand view of Sugar Creek and the other tourists who were smarter than us and brought or rented their own transportation instead of depending on their feet like chumps.

Most of the rest of the family had packed it in and left by the time we returned to the picnic site. Thankfully no one stole our stuff in our absence, though we were a bit less thankful that an anonymous donor left behind half a tub of uneaten, lukewarm cole slaw in one parting act of lazy kindness.

The long walk took two hours and hundred of calories, and left us basically bedridden for the rest of the night. We’re thinking for the 2017 reunion, which will be their 60th and probably cause for extra celebration or maybe several tons of biodegradable streamers, maybe next time we set a few extra ground rules, such as stapling the park map to the back of my hand just in case, or vowing only to take trails that promise to lead us toward 4G-connected civilization. That way we can enjoy the view from the edge of the trail without an edge in our voice.

Turkey Run State Park!

Possibly the ghosts of another couple who died here from extreme overwalking.

7 responses

  1. Pingback: Edge: High (3) | What's (in) the picture?

  2. Love doing the same to my family when they ‘volunteer’ to walk with me. Looks so beautiful though and something you don’t do everyday. Maybe before next year you and your wife can surprise them and take some excursions in the woods to prepare for the hike:) Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Turkey Run does have some of the loveliest woods and natural features around. It’s a great place for a getaway, and I think I do know one trail I’ve done that the rest of the family hasn’t — it’s shorter but with a slightly scarier-looking ravine off to one side. I’m not sure I can lure them that way, though. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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