I stomped into the river, sending water everywhere.
It was even better when I jumped in with two feet.
I loved walking through puddles as a kid. Well, not walking so much as jumping in them.
Even without boots.
Actually, especially without boots.
If I came across a puddle on the walk home from school or just out roaming the neighborhood on a long Michigan summer day, you can bet I wasn’t coming home with dry socks and shoes.
I’m not really sure what it was that compelled me to seek out puddles. I guess it was just plain fun.
But things changed.
Somewhere along the path of life I started avoiding the puddles.
My idea of fun changed. Wet socks and shoes held no appeal as they did as an adventurous child.
However, I’ve always loved the water. Few things excite me more than a trip to the ocean.
I also love lakes, rivers and streams.
That’s why Cypress Trail ranks as one of my favorite routes to hike.
It’s a way to get to the Boulders Loop for many who park at the end of Phoenix Street.
But that’s not the case for me.
I generally turn around and head back to my Jeep when I’ve walked the one-plus mile along Cypress to the Boulders Loop intersection. Those trails feature plenty of beauty, but very little water.
I’d add the loop to my itinerary, too, if the oldest of my two rescue dogs, Bear, could handle it. At 13, he simply can’t handle a five-mile trek. Throw in the cataracts that has robbed him of his sight and you have a dog with issues.
But he still loves hikes, just as his younger sister, Bailey, does.
There are two versions of the Cypress Trail.
Most of the year it depresses me to hike because it’s bone dry. The stream that meanders along the trail is gone, revealing a sandy creek bed.
It’s like the trail is dead, at least the part of it I love most.
But that’s not the case now. The moisture we’ve received this winter has the creek flowing as hard as it ever does during the late summer monsoon season.
It’s alive and simply beautiful. I was filled with excitement as the three of us exited the vehicle and begin our adventure on a recent Sunday afternoon.
As I said, I’ve grown up a lot since my days as a puddle jumping young boy, so I’m looking to keep my feet as dry as possible.
Now, the first four or five water crossings are a welcome sight, but they’re not much of a problem to traverse.
Well, for me, anyway. That’s not so much the case for my furry friends who can’t manage to step on the rocks I can to stay dry.
We came upon a board across the first water crossings and Bailey was doing a great impersonation of an Olympic gymnast on the balance beam before Bear pulled her off as he pranced through the stream on the other end of the leash they share.
I was pretty pleased with myself after finding an alternate area to cross the fourth or fifth water encounter. But, eventually we came upon a stream simply too wide.
So it was decision time. Do I turn around and go back trying to avoid wet socks and shoes all together, or push on?
But, hey, I was prepared for this. I’ve been here before. I knew there’s simply no way to make the one-plus mile hike without getting wet when the water flows.
“Come on,” I said to my pals and stepped right in and splashed across to the other side in a manner my 6-year-old self would have been proud of.
It’s a liberating kind of feeling actually to abandon the effort to stop and seek a dry way to ford the creek. The rest of the hike it’s just march right through with no concern about the repercussions. Heck, I’m already soaked, so let’s just have fun.
Bailey’s not a big fan of this idea. She loves Cypress when it’s dry. But Bear and I couldn’t be happier.
So we drove home with mud on our paws, soaked socks and a smile on our faces.
I almost felt like a kid again.