With every step there is a discovery. A rock, a root, a leaf. In one spot I find three kinds of moss; wispy pine like moss, the sea like ground cover moss – moist, like skin cloaking the tree, and clumpy mold like moss growing clumsily across the fringe of dirt at the roots of a fallen trunk.
We walk over roots, boulders and broken stone that seem to be the consequence of many feet passing this way, the wearing down of stone, at points smooth and others fragmented.
It is a cool day, perfect for a hike. The breeze is cooling as my body temperature rises on the inclines. In the woods there is a redolence hard to explain, its damp and mildewy with decay and yet fresh and alive; magnificent. The air fills me with excitement as I hear water flowing ahead through leaves and over crags and outcrops.
We rush ahead then I stop. I must take a moment to sit, to breathe and listen to the music of the earth echoing around me. I watch the water bugs dance. Inhaling and exhaling deeply, I could stay here all day. But there is more.
A destination, the end of the path – perhaps a cliff or a field? I’m not quite sure since I’ve never been here before. I think to myself, I want to take the trail map and highlight each new path we explore until we see them all. What a gift this place is. My heart is beating with the excitement of the moment…three lakes, mountain cliffs, the gunks and a world of life all its own.
I am sharing this ramble with my partner; simply enjoying the silence together. As we continue on the slope it gets steeper as we go. I am happy. Happy to be here, to walk, to have remembered to wear layers – my sweater has now learned to dance from my waist to my shoulders to shelter then sooth my skin as my body changes in stride.
We reach an area and stop. We’ve been hiking a while. How much farther, how much more time? Will we make it back before dark? And we push on.
Ha! Not one hundred yards beyond the next thicket of trees we hit the top! We spring from the trees to the open sky and a formidable cliff overlooking a breathtaking view with blue skies, wispy clouds and the wind’s spiritual hymn. We laugh and sit smiling and excited to be where we are. We breathe.
There is another moment – how long do we have? What time is it? Will we make it back before dark? Then we stop. We lie down on the stone, arms dangling over the side and listen to the world. We hear birds, and footsteps, crunching branches and laughter. A group of young men emerge laughing and in search of “Gertrude’s Nose”, I think to myself, I’ll have to find it too one day. And then a again; I breathe.
After a sublime conscious rest we debate the path back – “the hard way or the easy way”, the hard way being the way we came. And with enthusiasm we say in sync ” the way we came”; that’s why we’re here.
As we prepare our journey back we stand and before us flies out from behind the bend from below the cliff, 10 eagles. In awe we stop, sit back down and watch as the do their do-see-do’s hunting, diving here and there then re-emerging in the sky.
With gratitude we stay and watch a while and give thanks for this gift to whoever can hear our hearts. I believe it is a thank you from mother nature for taking the time to be silent, for appreciating our world and sharing our love.
With new energy in our hearts we challenge ourselves in our trek back to the inside world of cars and people. We push our bodies and our minds and fill ourselves with air and adrenaline and laughter.
We get back in less than half the time it took to get out almost running with glee and joy with in our spirits. And on the final path back…we breathe.