Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath. ~Eckhart Tolle
This year, my husband and I chose to spend Easter hiking with our boys at one of my favorite local hiking spots: Edgewood County Park and Natural Preserve. The park had been blessed with a wonderful super bloom this year and I wanted to get out and see the wildflowers while they were still abundant.
I love how close the preserve is to our home. The trails are manageable for the kids and hiking on Easter Sunday meant we could take our time having a late breakfast at home, followed by an early afternoon hike.
The weather was perfect: sunny, very slight breeze, not a cloud in the sky. The parking lot was at capacity but we didn’t let that or the long line of cars parked along Edgewood Road deter us.
Before we got on the trail, my older son pointed stopped at pointed out a sign.
“Mom, look! ‘Prevent Lyme disease’, that’s a new sign!” He sounded surprised to see it there.
I told him yes, I had noticed the signage for the first time last year on a hike with a friend and I too had been pleasantly surprised to see it there.
We started up the Edgewood Trail under the cool shade of the Pacific Madrones and Coastal Live Oaks, crossing over the Ridgeview Trail and then followed the Serpentine Trail down to where it met with the Sylvan trail.
We paused at the intersection and took in the view. I turned around to look at the wildflowers and noticed a man and his young son hiking off the trail. Instead of hiking the switchback, they were coming straight down, stepping on the wildflowers and prairie grass as they made their way down.
It took every ounce of self-control to refrain from yelling out to them to stay on the trail.
“They’re off the trail!” I said to my husband and boys, who continued walking ahead of me.
I was incensed: this guy was teaching his kid it was okay to disregard the signs and go off trail. I was bothered because A: They were damaging a protected area and B: They were putting themselves at risk for ticks.
My husband and kids saw the ire on my face and told me to keep quiet. I fumed as I followed my family.
Further down the Sylvan trail, we came across a couple with their 3-year-old daughter, off the trail, sitting in the grass under a tree.
Heat built up inside of me: they too were damaging a protected area and putting themselves at risk for ticks.
I could not let it go.
“Please be careful, there are ticks out here,” I said to them.
They merely nodded as the wife said, “Thank you” and continued eating the lunch they had packed.
I wanted to go back and scream at these people “Do you have any idea, any idea at all about the risk you are taking walking through the grass or sitting under the tree?”
I wanted to yell “Do you know how debilitating Lyme disease is?”
I wanted to tell them “Do you know that ticks are as small as a poppy seed?”
I wanted to tell them “I have Lyme! I suffered for 40 years before figuring out why I was so sick!”
Instead, I continued to walk, frustrated at their ignorance.
My older son sensed my frustration.
“Mom, there are thousands of people out there who have Lyme and don’t even know it. If those people want to be stupid, then let them be stupid. The will find out for themselves.”
When we got to the end of the trail, we saw a ranger. The rule-follower than I am, I told the ranger about the people who had been off the trail. The ranger appreciated the information and told me to take a photo the next time I see people off the trail, then they could post it and talk to them.
As we passed the “Prevent Lyme Disease” sign on our way out, I thought about the idea of adding my own sign and a photo:
“Lyme sucks, trust me.”
Maybe I will.