The U.S. gets pretty loud on the Fourth of July. No, I don’t mean our typical level of noise we tend to make about global politics and whatnot; I mean oh-my-god-why-are-my-ears-bleeding kind of loud. Seemingly from the time the sun peeks its hot little head over the horizon, somebody is outside lighting up a charcoal grill upon which to cook up a week’s worth of tubular meat stuffs — all of them, mind you, to be consumed in one day.
Fourth of July, otherwise known as our Independence Day, is this annual exercise in complete sensory overload. Nostrils variably burn with the thick smoke of spent saltpeter and the charring flesh of some animal, porcine, bovine, whatever. Your ears are left undefended to ford a never ending stream of pop patriotism, belted out, as ever, by a dude with a beard. Fireworks excite the eyes, alcohol taints the blood, flame permanently reworks skin — as I’ve said, it’s all very loud.
I’ve always been more of a relax by the campfire with good beer, good friends, and a guitar to pass around kind of a fella. Despite my daily demeanor, I really don’t like “loud.” So at first light, I went straight for the quietest place I knew within 10 miles: the trails.
Genessee County Park: It’s Not Much, but It’s Quiet
Ostensibly, Independence Day is the only day which my countrymen take notice of their local parks. By 9 AM, every state and county park will be filled to the brim with cheap beer (re: pisswater), enough meat to feed Haiti for a while, and increasingly inebriated folk looking to tackle each other in some iteration of “person plays with ball.” None of this is a dig, mind you.
If you want to find a little peace before the onslaught begins, you need to hit the trails early. My fast degrading boots first touched trail around 8:30, much later than I wanted, but the throng of the soon to be stomach-pumped had only just begun to arrive in earnest.
The trails at Genesee County Park are well kept. If you come across a section of trail with even a twig laying on it, you’re just unlucky. Beyond the occasional clump of horse pockey, you don’t really have to look out for a thing.
And that is really the way of the entire park. You’ll occasionally come across a growing mound of Chicken of the Woods or a deer, but this isn’t one of those places you’ll see making the ranks of America’s best hikes. There are no soaring vistas, nor are there any imposing outcroppings of rock to take a vain self-portrait from. It’s just nature, it’s quiet, and on a day of celebrations begging for even the briefest period of silence, that’s all it needs to be.
Happy Fourth to all my Amerifriends out there!