a walk in the woods

This weekend, one of my friends posted on Facebook about a nine-plus mile hike she’d just gone on. Right away I told my husband that we needed to do it, too. I was itching to get out. Plus, I’d recently bought a small hiking backpack and water bottle (since my husband is forever fussing, rightfully so, about my lack of hiking preparedness) and was eager to use my new gear. So Monday morning after the milking, we drove east for about an hour. After some last-minute direction confusion, we got our bearings and struck off into the woods.

Actually, we struck off into the woods before we got our bearings AS IS THE MURCH WAY. But we worked out the kinks within the first half hour and only backtracked once so that was basically the same thing as doing it right the first time. (For us, anyway.)

Ooh, look. He dropped his heart.

The first three (five?) miles felt a little like highway driving — just walking on a trail in the woods, no babbling brook or stunning views to distract us from the heat and gnats.

There almost weren’t even rocks to sit on to eat our lunch. Just, lots of trees and a path.

Oh, and snakes! I stepped on a baby green snake without knowing (my husband gasped when he saw it coming up from under my shoe), and then I nearly stepped on this monster.

I shouted, turned tail, and booked it back to my husband. Once I caught my breath, we gently urged mister snake to let us pass, and he kindly did. 

One thing we noticed was the lack of birdsong. At our house, all day long and even sometimes at night (we have a drunk mockingbird that like to sing his heart out at 2 am right outside our bedroom window) the tweeting is deafening, but in the woods it was quiet quiet.

After a few miles, we started climbing. A couple miles of that and then, right around the seven mile mark, there was a short, steep climb to the old fire tower with views in all directions which we savored only briefly…

…(because the sun was killer) before relocating to the little stone room under the tower where we leaned against the cool walls, ate chips and chocolate, and rested.

The first mile back down the mountain was gorgeous: a single path through moss-covered rocks, mountain laurel, and sunshine.

And then the last mile or two, the trail widened so we could walk side-by-side. It was mostly downhill, with lovely shade and so many butterflies flitting in front of us that I felt like I was in a Disney movie. I half expected deer and bunnies and chipmunks — all with enormous soft brown eyes — to skip across our path. 

This was the first time my husband and I had gone hiking just the two of us. “What’s even the point of this?” he said as we tromped down Bambi Lane.  

I took the bait. “It’s kinda like meditation, right? All there is to focus on is what we’re doing, right now, and there’s nothing to distract us from our current misery. It’s centering.” It’s weirdly addicting, I’m learning.

We finished the last of our water right before we got back to the car (note to self: buy a second water bottle) where I discovered the iced coffee I’d packed and left in the cooler, but forgotten about on the hike.

It was like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but better.

This same time, years previous: the coronavirus diaries: week 65, simple lasagna, this is us, brown sugar rhubarb muffins, the quotidian (6.1.15), the quotidian (6.2.14), a bunch of stuff, showtime!, what makes this dish.


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