I recently got some extended time with God in the Wick Recreation Area of Youngstown’s Mill Creek Park. It felt uncomfortably cold, and gray, and dead when I started out. But gradually, I started to notice the beauty of the trees: the beeches and hemlocks, especially. Shortly after this dawning sense of awe and wonder started to take hold, I spotted a deer lying a short ways off the trail. It was a large, brown doe. She fixed her eyes on me, watching for any indication of danger. I stayed stock-still. And eventually, the doe’s gaze shifted to a spot further off the trail. When I followed her gaze, I noticed two fawns nestled in the leaves. And one of these fawns was unlike any I’d ever seen before.
The fawn was entirely white. An albino. The fawn and I just started at each other for a while. And I even managed to get a picture! But then I decided to let the deer rest and simply continue my hike, further into the forest.
I texted a friend who’s from the area to share the experience. He told me that he’s heard of others in Youngstown spotting a Great White Stag (presumably the fawn’s father?). So I spent the rest of my hike looking for this mythical, magical, legendary creature. I never succeeded in finding this Great White Stag. But just a little later, the forest transformed into a valley of bubbling boulders, all covered in vibrant green moss.
And shortly after that, it seemed like the earth started cracking open — ledges, like in the Cuyahoga Valley or Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park — but, again, unusually-green moss covering everything, standing out brilliantly in an otherwise drab environment of gray and brown.
It was amazing!
If I would have seen the “Great White Stag,” it would have been an exclamation point on a magical morning hike. But even when I made it through the ledges and started hiking back towards my car, I felt a heightened appreciation for the rumbling river, the deep blue-green of Lily Pond, and the way my body warmed itself up from hiking through it all.
It felt like a good gift from God to experience so much awe and wonder! It caught me off-guard. But I felt so grateful. It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a hike that much. But I hope to go back again sometime soon. And maybe even spot that Great White Stag bounding through the forest.