“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”
The trail at the start of the hike.
After not hiking for several days, I got back on the trail on Thursday to see what I could see. And finally, I saw some pretty intense fall colors as I made my way around the Green Trail and up a rocky road to a shelter. Due to a busy week, not only have I not been out hiking, but I also did not get on my stationary bike as much as I would have liked. Needless to say, my legs felt out of sorts and I knew that I was moving a little slower than I usually do.
Some nice fall colors in the woods.
With that said, it did feel good to get the legs moving and to breathe in the crisp fall air. Today I did bring my decent camera with me so I was hoping to get some decent pictures that adequately represented the day. Although it wasn’t brilliantly sunny, as the sun set it keep peeking through the clouds offering me a pretty nice array of colors and shades within the clouds.
Every time I go to Ward Pound Ridge now the trees are more bare and the woods seem more expansive than they did just a few weeks ago. Since I started to hike at WPRR during the summer, everything was cloaked in a sea of greens. Now, if even just for a couple of days, the trees resemble a huge bowl of stuffing that sits on the table at Thanksgiving.
Like the bowl of stuffing that is waiting to be eaten, the leaves fall and are reclaimed by the earth. It is truly an awesome time to be hiking. Today was definitely the coldest morning in a many months. At my usual start time of around 6:20 am, the temperature had dropped to 38 degrees. As I stretched and waited for it to get a little lighter (and warmer), I put on the flannel jacket that I had stashed in the back of my jeep.
Even at that time of the morning I could tell which of the shelters were occupied because of the distinct smell of a dying campfire. As I approached one shelter, it was so quiet that I could hear the slow roar of someone snoring. When I actually passed the tent and the snore was at its loudest, I could only feel sorry for anyone who might be sharing a tent with him.
“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
Sunday mornings are always a good morning for hikes. This one was as well, but I was still a little tired from the 10 mile hike that I did late Friday so I knew I wouldn’t be doing a repeat! With that said, the Green Trail looked like the way to go. Three and a half miles was enough to get me in the proper frame of mind for the day!
“When we are pushed and pulled in many different directions, we lose our sovereignty. We’re not free. Don’t allow yourself to be carried away anymore. Resist. Each mindful step is a step toward freedom. This kind of freedom is not political freedom. It’s freedom from the past, from the future, from our worries and our fears.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
After an unexpected trip to Albany on Friday the 13th, I was left with a couple more hours of daylight than I was used to. Knowing this, I decided to go for a hike. The weather was beautiful and a nice cool breeze washed over the woods. Despite the fact that I had driven over four hours, I felt surprisingly good as I made my way on to the trail. My goal at first was to walk the original 5 1/2 miles of the Labyrinth but I hoped to do more.
Finishing the last couple of hundred yards of the first loop, I still felt good and knew that I would be able to do a few more miles. Instead of doing the Red Trail again, I broke off when it intersected with the RT and followed until it met up with the Yellow Trail. This brought me back to the car.
Truly an exercise in trying to find your inner peace!
Another day, another hike, another near miss with the rain. Only this time I didn’t even know it was supposed to rain! Heading out right after work, I decided to do the loop that I did on Sunday, only this time I would go past the connector trail and continue on the Red/Yellow Trail to the finish.
When I was about a half of a mile from the end, I saw this leaf suspended in mid air. At first I was a little freaked out because I couldn’t see anything holding it up. It just kept turning with the slight breeze that was blowing. Even when you look at the picture, you can’t see anything!!!
As I finished the hike and stretched my legs, I felt the familiar drops of rain as it went from barely raining to pouring in a matter of a couple of minutes. Once again, I got lucky and didn’t get soaked!
“We frequently walk with the sole purpose of getting from one place to another. But where are we in between? With every step, we can feel the miracle of walking on solid ground. We can arrive in the present moment with every step.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
“When we first learned to walk, we walked just to enjoy walking. We walked and discovered each moment as we encountered it. We can learn to walk that way again.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Over the past several months I have learned the truth in the quotes written above by Thich Nhat Hanh. Although I certainly do not remember learning to walk, I can recall the squeals of delight from both of my children as they took their first steps. Eyes wide open with surprise, the fact that taking their first steps could bring such joy is something that we have forgotten as adults. We have nothing left to experience that is a new and as exciting as this.
As I recall those moments, I have to admit that when I go out to hike I don’t squeal anymore (at least out loud), but I do feel a sense of bliss and satisfaction every time I head to the woods. I am, however, mindful of why I walk as often as I can. These days it is equally as much for my mental well being as it is for my physical health.
My point is a simple one. Regardless of why you may walk, it is important not to lose the wonder and excitement that you felt as a child and made those discoveries for the first time. If you look hard enough, you can discover something new on every hike that you take. The changing of the leaves, the smell of the morning air or meeting someone new, it is all up to you. If you are lucky, you just won’t be listening to just what your head is telling you. If you listen very carefully, you will hear it in your heart as well.
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
“The power of imagination makes us infinite.”
After a day of rain on Sunday, the weather today was next to perfect! Once again, temperatures were in the mid 50’s with clear skies and a nice breeze. When I hit the trail at 5:40 am, it was still pretty dark but I knew that with an earlier than usual start I would have a little more flexibility with how far I could go.
I decided that after yesterday’s post I am renaming the Red Trail, “The Labyrinth.” It only seems fitting since I have hiked it numerous times and have likened its benefits to a traditional Labyrinth.
Today’s trek first took me on the The Labyrinth, back around to a connector trail to the Leatherman’s Loop and I finished by heading back on a very short loop from the yellow to the end of the red.
One of the best things about the cool weather has been the absence of any blood sucking thugs. It’s been really nice not to have to spend entire hikes swatting and slapping these beasts away from me. I can’t remember the last time that I had to actually use any bug spray on a hike.