So on Memeorial Day, Dad and I set out to the preserve. There are actually two preserves that back up next to each other - the Balm-Boyette Scrub Preserve and the Triple Creek Preserve. The orchids were located in Triple Creek. I downloaded the trail map from the county website and we started on our way. The map made it look like we had to pass through the one preserve to get to the other. So we walked through the scrub looking at wildflowers and taking pictures of butterflies. Still, we never saw any orchids. I kept referring to the map which stated the entire trail system was six miles; however, we had walked pretty far in a large loop and yet we seemed to be nowhere near where we started.
Like dummies, we didn't bring water with us because this was only supposed to be a thirty minute to one hour walk and it was early in the morning and still relatively cool. I began to regret this after about three miles of walking. We found a creek and splashed the cool water on our hands, arms, and faces. Dad even had a tissue he dipped in the creek that I used to wipe my face as we continued our walk.
The whole time we were being passed by bicyclists because there are many mountain biking trails in the Balm-Boyette preserve. We did see a couple other hikers, but we were one of the few not on bicycles. After a couple more miles, I really started to fade. I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome so this was testing me to my absolute limit. At one point we were stopping every hundred yards or so in order for me to rest. My heart rate was elevated, I was short of breath, and my legs were protesting loudly. I had to sit down several times even as Dad encouraged me that we were nearing the exit.
I guess Dad started getting worried because he flagged down a bicyclist that was passing by. He explained the situation and the nice man gave me water from his backpack, a granola bar, and an energy gel pack. I couldn't eat the gel pack; I almost vomited the instant it hit my toungue. But I did manage to eat the granola and nearly drained his backpack. While I was drinking, Dad and the man looked at the trail map and the man explained that we weren't in the place we thought we were. In fact, the other preserve is further north up the street and the map we had been relying on (which Dad said looked like it was drawn by a pre-schooler) was for that preserve, not the one we were in. In short, we weren't in Triple Creek at all - we were still in the Balm-Boyette Scrub.
Fortunately, the man told us the exit was just beyond a curve up ahead in the trail. I felt a bit better so I tried to keep trucking and taking breaks under the shade trees. After a few minutes, the mystery man on the bike returned with a bottle of cold water for me! We thanked him profusely and kept on walking. Water never tasted so good.
Beyond the curve we did indeed see the parking lot and the sight of Dad's truck was like the gates of Heaven. The mystery bike man was there by his vehicle and his family offered me another bottle of water but I told them we had some in the truck. What nice people; I'm sending extra good karma their way.
The good part of the story is that I got to see two butterflies in the wild that I have only seen at MOSI. First, we saw tons of Great Southern Whites which are identifiable by the turquoise-colored clubs on the end of their antennae.
I did in fact, get to see many species of butterflies, native passion vine in bloom, and lots of other neat plants. So it wasn't a total waste of time. Plus, I got to spend time with my Dad which is always cool. After we got back to the truck we drove up the street and found where the entrance to the Triple Creek preserve was located. If we're feeling lucky (and recovered enough) we plan on going next weekend to the correct preserve to find those orchids!