Since I used the very few pictures I took of my hike today in other posts, I will recycle an old photo from the entrance of Ward Pound reservation. It’s the end of the week and I couldn’t think of anything better to do to start the weekend. A peaceful and beautiful four miles!
“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.
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.
“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”
“Each moment of the year has its own beauty.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Walking in the woods today I could sense a shift in the seasons. Although it is only September 1st, the crisp air was certainly much cooler than you would expect, even for this late in the summer. You may think I’m crazy, but when you are hiking, you find that every season has its own unique smell. From the re-awakening of the woods in spring to the barren ground right before a snowfall, it is almost as if the earth lets you know it is changing.
This morning, if only for a moment, the distinct smell of autumn enveloped me as I walked on the trail. However, as quickly as I noticed it, it was gone. Let’s hope that the weather continues in that direction and doesn’t return to summer!
Although I am back at school, I am going to count the hikes I do until Autumn begins on Friday September 22nd as summer hikes.