This sign gives details at the Harmony-Preston Valley Trail trailhead in Harmony. LISA BRAINARD/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
This sign gives details at the Harmony-Preston Valley Trail trailhead in Harmony. LISA BRAINARD/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
As winter tiptoed daringly into spring - and then dashed headlong into summer - the enticing weather spurred me back onto the area's recreational trails with my recumbent trike.

Early on I had problems that just couldn't seem to be solved with the right front tire going flat. I know people got sick of my repeated calls of "um, yeah, the tire's flat again," which required changing out the tube when time might allow.

But, yes, eventually the tire/tube decided to behave and stay inflated. I was bound for the trails.

It certainly felt good to be out. The sun was shining its warm rays, light winds were blowing, plants and trees were taking on an intensifying green color and wildflowers were blooming.

Sometimes as I travel, descriptive phrases fitting the scene at hand just pop out of my head of their own volition (if only all my writing were so easy). "All's right with the world" escaped one day, with a smile and laughter, as I watched a squirrel, apparently finding and digging up some nuts. Creating a scene straight out of a cartoon were the blackbirds buzzing him.

I presume this is typical spring behavior by squirrels, but I'd just never seen it before. Neither had I seen buzzing, dive-bombing birds on the attack, but I presume that's also typical behavior.

All in all, it was quite entertaining. And it just goes to show that you never know what you'll see when out in nature. Who knows what a person might see if you were making a concerted effort to be in a quiet, "stealth" mode? I mean, I was noisily pedaling along on my recumbent trike, for pete's sake, when I caught all that action - thankfully, totally oblivious to my presence.

Riding in Harmony

Over Memorial Day weekend, a friend hauled my TerraTrike to the Harmony trailhead of the Harmony-Preston Valley Trail. Now I have a confession to make. With the accident and stroke recovery and the inability to rock exercise like I used to, I certainly could be in better shape. It's not exactly a surprise. When that shape-up occurs, I'll plan to pedal from Preston to Harmony and, yes, attempt the infamous big hill out of the Camp Creek valley.

But Memorial Day weekend was not that time.

So I happily pedaled out of the visitors' center parking lot, taking in Harmony scenes, including the depot building. Soon, I checked out the hobo camp of wooden sculptures created by Slim Maroushek, so very colorful and unique.

I'd been alerted there were rolling hills as the trail leaves Harmony. Indeed. That surprised me - and even required me to shift into a lower gear (wimp that I am), but it was no big deal. I observed areas with trees, a small trail shelter and an interpretive sinkhole display.

Then - I was there - at the precipice. It was time to fly down the big hill. (FYI, this occurred at either the second or third trail sign warning of steep grades and advising bicyclists to make sure to stay on the right side of the trail, just like driving a car. No cutting corners!)

OK, I'll admit it. I've always been a bit of a cautious, scaredy-cat on steep hills, whether running down them, riding a horse down them, or mountain biking them. I did not blast down it. I quite sensibly kept my hands on the brake levers, squeezing them lightly every so often. Everything was very much under control, thank you. That is, barring any squirrels running across my path, but remember - I was going a readily stoppable speed.

It's true that such odd accidents can happen. I remember someone taking a high-speed road crash on a hill near Bluffton years ago thanks to a squirrel. It was NOT a good thing.

The ride from Harmony to Preston is lovely. It's around 12 miles. I especially like it when the trail starts running along Camp Creek. I'm partial to pretty trout stream valleys.

For more information on the Harmony-Preston Valley Trail go to the link on the Minnesota DNR website, www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails/harmony_preston/index.html.

Better yet, just get out and make your own discoveries.