Today I took a long walk in the woods. It was actually more of a hike and believe me, I know I will be paying for it tomorrow, but it was wonderful nonetheless. I've been wanting to do some long hikes rather than shorter walks and decided that Saturday morning would be a good time to disappear in the woods for a while, hike, think, decompress, pray, and sweat. I didn't get out as early this morning as I would have liked, but I finally did get out there for a three-hour hike.
A three hour hike.
Ha, had to get that Gilligan's Island reference in there. Anyway, I went to our local hiking trails with Lucy the Wonder Dog, who was in transports because she got to go somewhere. Anywhere. The vet's office? Sure thing! Walk around the block? I'm there! She had a great time today but I think it took a lot out of her.
It's amazing how wonderful it was to just walk in the woods. It was quiet, not silent, but quiet. We heard some really weird sounds, like a squeaky car trunk opening. I decided that they were the tops of the trees as they swayed in the breeze. We saw some folks, but not many, given that this is a gorgeous Saturday afternoon.
It may have been because of the trail.
For over a year, I've been wanting to walk Red Wing Trail. It's the longest of the trails and labeled "difficult", so I hadn't done it. When we've hiked the Fox Rock Trail (now called the Geology Trail), it's taken the wind out of my sails. It's got a gazillion picturesque steps to go up and down. Who needs a stair-step machine? So I've never done Red Wing and today I dove in and did it.
There's a chicken-out spot on Red Wing, where you can take a shortcut which will put you back near the beginning of Red Wing so you don't have to do the 2.6 miles, plus the mileage after that to get back to the Visitor Center. It is a little bit after a monster incline which had me gasping for breath and I stood there and contemplated it while Lucy paced impatiently. Some other folks came off the longer part of the trail and stood at the crossroads with me, trying to figure out whether to take the shortcut or to go the longer way (with the incline). They went on the shortcut and I, perversely, decided to go all the way around the long way. Because I couldn't look like a wuss. Yeah, that's a good reason to hike over 4 miles.
We walked through grand old trees, thrusting branches up into a cerulean sky. We walked through meadows where the goldenrod was eye-height to me and Lucy got scared off by something in the midst of it (they have trails cut through the meadow and laid through the woods). We walked along and, occasionally, through streams and streambeds. We looked at an area which is supposedly reclaimed wetland but, in this weather, is just another dry creek with lots of grass around it. I saw deeply fissured ground and thought how wonderful it would be for us to get a good soaking rain. I saw butterflies, birds, and bugs. It was very relaxing. My soul sang for gladness and thankfulness. And I wondered why it couldn't always be the way it was in the woods. Why can't I be serene and happy in my everyday life? Why do I have to walk to the top of a hill to achieve peace?
Maybe it was the oxygen deprivation (it's been a while since I did any hiking).
I thought a lot about that, about the depression that dogs my life, about my family and our life choices. I thought about duty, committment, and sacrifice. I thought about sucking it up and I thought about expressing feelings, needs, and desires. I wondered if I'd ever make it out of the woods and to the restroom at the Visitor's Center.
Well, it was a long hike!
It was a super time. I'm so grateful I got the chance to go and I really want to go again. I even went so far as to challenge myself to hike all 20 or so miles of trails there in Rowe Woods (surely nothing could be as arduous as today was?) My problem is that I'm either too hard on myself or too lenient. I was afraid to actually do the challenge because then I'd have an instantaneous negative reaction and never walk out there again. But I think it's good for me and I want to continue. I'd love to be one of the vigorous old ladies I see hiking out there. I've given up on the idea of being a thin old lady (or middle-aged lady) but I'll opt for vigor over the other option any day of the week. So, that's the plan. Hike Rowe Woods. I've already done Red Wing, part of Geology, and part of Whitetail, how hard could it be?
Oh, and the Crocs were a mistake. Even if it's the height of summer and your feet are hot, hot, hot, do not give into the temptation to hike in Crocs. I'm just sayin'.
Oh, oh, oh! Guess what? I hit the mother lode of books at the library yesterday. All of a sudden, a lot of the books I'd attempted to place on hold came in. Here are a few of the goodies:
Sweet Revenge, the new Diane Mott Davidson book
The Roosevelt Women, Betty Boyd Caroli
Unleash the Power of NatureFoods
Freaks, Geeks, and Asperger Syndrome, Luke Jackson
Dream House and Blues in the Night, Rochelle Krich
The new Yarn Harlot book
I Wish I'd Been There: Twenty Historians Bring to Life Dramatic Events that Changed America
And two Haunted Ohio books.
You know what I'll be doing this weekend! I hope yours is a happy one!