It was a cloudless 50-degree late fall day, a day that was intended only for being outdoors. We dream of days like this, days when every minute of sunlight — and there were 607 and change on this particular day — should be spent outside. Alas, I was bushed: low biorhythms, iron-poor blood, ennui? I didn’t know and it didn’t matter, because I barely had 60 minutes in me., let alone 600. And if I could only get in a couple miles on a day meant for 10, what was the point. Which brings me to the point.
Wednesday morning I was 10 minutes down the trail, passing through a clearing about to reenter the woods when I was struck by an odd mix of discovery and deja vu. The trail through this rolling hardwood forest and this clearing was both familiar and foreign. I’d hiked here before, plenty of times. At one point, I probably hiked here two or three times a month. And I had some vivid memories, including one visit in a light snow. But there was one thing I couldn’t remember.
I just returned from a five-day retreat of sorts, a portion of which was spent thinking about trails. All kinds of trails, and the role they play in our lives. It was something I didn’t realize I’d been thinking about for so long: all the way back, it seems, to the first time I looked into the sky and saw a contrail streaking across the sky, the sign of a journey being taken from unknown Point A to unknown Point B. The initial joy of that journey? Imagining where those two points might be.
Wednesday, we talked about “back door” hikes, hikes that are off the beaten path, hikes at some of our favorite places, but without the crowds. He brought up these hikes because escaping the masses will be even more of a challenge as the fall hiking season approaches,
Sometimes you just need a little outdoor time. Not a full weekend of exploring. Not even a whole day — even a half day. Sometimes just an hour, hour and a half will do.
That well could be the case this weekend, when temperatures are again expected to reach 90, when afternoon storms are again a threat. Under such circumstances, a quick outing into a scenic spot can do the trick.