This past Friday my wife and I had the opportunity to go for a walk at Konza Prairie.
After the brutal summer we had this year, the recent cooler temperatures have been very welcome and Friday was just about perfect weather-wise for a walk on the prairie. When I first got into photography I spent a lot of time on the public hiking trails there but over the past few years I haven’t been there very often so it was time for a visit.
It was nice to see some of the late summer wildflowers blooming along the trails. There are a couple of different loops you can take on the hiking trails at Konza – we settled for the shortest 2.5 mile loop for this trip. I usually like to go around the trail “backwards”, that way I’m going through the trees and the first part of the trail down around the base of the hills early in the evening and then up on the hilltop part of the trail at sunset (and also I don’t have to walk up that really nasty steep hill first thing).
After crossing the bridges at the very first section of the trail you go through another short section of heavily wooded area, I really like this part of the trail, seems like you are about to get lost in a forest and then you are through and into a more open area.
The gayfeather has been spectacular this year around Manhattan and we saw several large patches along the trails.
We also saw several deer, both right along the trail and on the surrounding hillsides. I think this was one of the few trips to Konza where I’ve seen more people than deer.
Toward sunset we weren’t quite up to the hilltops from where I had anticipated shooting the sunset. Despite the beautiful evening I had fixed in my head that I had to shoot sunset from the hilltops. I hate to admit it but I was focusing on ‘getting the shot’ that I had firmly entrenched in my head rather than simply enjoying the walk and the beautiful evening. A few gentle reminders from my wife and I realized that I was not being mindful of what was going on – rather than simply enjoying the evening I was focusing on several ‘should’ and ‘need’ and ‘want’ thoughts. Funny how your mind can carry you away from enjoyable moments. Reminds me of the quote from Horace “Rule your mind, or it will rule you.” And it also reminds me that it is always a good thing to have someone wiser than you around.
We hit the hilltop section of the trail right as the last of the color was leaving the sky. It was really beautiful and the view was fantastic as always. Walking down the trail back towards the parking lot we passed several deer just off the trail. It was dark enough that you could just make out the deer; they almost seemed like ghosts. I think that might have been the most interesting part of the entire hike. My take home lesson of the day from the hike? I’m not really sure, but definitely a reminder that I need to get myself outside more often than I have been lately, that I need to get in better shape, I need to work on my mindfulness and that I need to listen to my wife more often (I’m sure she would tell you that I’ve needed to learn that lesson for a long time and that she is equally sure that I won’t ever fully learn it).
If you haven’t been to Konza before I highly recommend a visit, if you are in the area. There will be an open house at Konza on Saturday September 29th from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. This is a great chance to see some areas of Konza that you normally can’t and see what great research is being done there.