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Campus trails are awesome, bro

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of finally going back through the Florida Gulf Coast University trail system that weaves in and around campus. When I lived in California, I was big on day hiking, rock climbing and exploring; there was even a large hill (probably 50 meters vertically) that I’d venture up every weekend. So, it came as a nice throwback to my youth to be able to go out into the natural unknown again, even if the trail is a little more structured than I used to do. I promptly disregarded all safety precautions (telling no one that I was going, staying with a group, etc.) and headed into the trails.

The nice thing is that the variety of paths, some of which were no doubt unintended, means an ability to choose your own adventure, so to speak. I parked on the extra lot near Alico Arena and walked through that entrance, spying another guy who left his bike near my car. My first journey took me back into the forest, where I started hearing a low, growling type of noise. I’d seen quite a few people going to campus (on a Saturday), so I figured it was an event that was running machinery. I went ahead but kept hearing the noise, getting louder and more erratic. Was it construction equipment? Drainage systems? The smoke monster from “Lost”?

The thought briefly crossed my mind that it was a wild pig or boar, which I’d seen crossing the street on campus some years ago. The deeper I went into the trails, however, the more I heard and saw. The tall grass was pressed down and torn up in certain spots, like territory markings. I came to a conclusion, “Oh God, I’m near a boar’s nest.”

Now, I’m not a zoology major, but I do know some things about swine. They’re smart, they’re mean and they aren’t picky eaters. To be fair, there were tire tracks back there as well, so it might’ve been a tractor, but I decided not to take my chances. I left.

I returned to my car and found the other guy’s bike still there, so I thought he was probably still in the forest. I went back out and decided to go a different direction. The other way was a little more interesting, and gave a pretty good view of a pond that had been created by flooding. There were also branching paths that went deeper into the trees but about 100 feet down one, I decided that it also looked like a boar’s nest (I believe every location with crushed grass is a boar’s nest), and kept on the main way. I came upon the back of the soccer pitch and heard the sound of announcements from the baseball field. I think it was a game featuring veterans or something.

Anyway, I got back to my car and everything was cool, except for that other guy whose bike was still there, but he wasn’t. So, other guy, if you’re reading this: Dude, did you make it out?

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