Last week I decided to take advantage of the two hours of daylight left when I got off work — especially as pretty soon there won’t be any daylight left when most of us get off work — and went searching for a place to hike.

I’d been curious to see where Bullard Canyon Road led, as I’d only driven about three miles on it. So I followed it and read on one of the Noni’s Trails signs that Rogger Meadow and the Oregon Timber Trail were both six miles up the road.

After driving those six miles, I pulled over in the open area near the trailhead, which said the Rogger Peak Loop was a half-mile up the trail.

I walked that half-mile to the loop, enjoying seeing trees other than just Juniper. Bunches of aspens had turned bright yellow, made even more beautiful again the blue sky.

It was a peaceful, easy little half-mile up to Rogger Peak Loop, though it did feel closer to a mile. Once on the loop itself, I decided to keep going and told myself I would turn back in time to get to my car before dark.

But I find it hard to turn back before completing a trail; I just want to see what’s around the next corner, and then the next.

It was so nice to be surrounded by large trees. I’d been hoping to find a more forested hike close to town, and this one fit the bill perfectly. Nothing quite compares to walking alone on a forest trail.

As the trail nears Rogger Peak, the vegetation becomes more sparse and low-lying — the better for taking in the vast view. I even saw a cow at the top. (Oh, if you decide to take this hike yourself, be sure to watch out for cow pies. It’s like a minefield.)

At some point during the moderate climb up to the peak, I came to terms with the idea that I would likely be spending at least a little bit of my hike back in the dark. Once you’re that close to a peak, it’s hard to turn around. I reached the top right around sunset, and I seemingly couldn’t resist stopping every minute to snap another picture of the gorgeous pinks, purples, oranges and dusky blues that filled the sky. Seeing a view like that, and at such an opportune time, made me feel more grateful than usual to be alive.

It grew dark soon after I left the peak, and I was thankful that I hadn’t chosen to leave my phone in the car, as I was able to use its flashlight.

Even though I’ve hiked in the dark before, I definitely felt a growing sense of paranoia. When I swim in the ocean, I can’t help but picture being attacked by a shark; during that hike, I was imagining being pounced on and torn apart by a mountain lion. I kept looking back over my shoulder, and then reminding myself that if I were being stalked by a mountain lion, I’d never hear it coming.

During all this, the sound of a large animal in the bushes made my heart nearly leap out of my chest. I couldn’t see it, but guessed (and prayed) that it was only a deer. Much to my relief, I made it back to my car unscathed.

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