After sitting in front of the computer most of the morning, I decided to embark on one of the hikes in the book Best Hikes Near Pittsburgh. I wasn’t in the mood to drive far, but I knew that the final countdown of leaves changing was in it’s last days, and I would regret it if I wasted it indoors. Again, the world did not disappoint and my decision was immediately vindicated a few miles into the drive.
My windows were full of rolling hills packed with bright reds, oranges and yellows. Colors are at their peak and I found myself getting excited for the hike ahead of me. Thirty minutes later I was at the trail head of Brady’s Run Park, surrounded by the most vibrant yellows and oranges I had ever seen.
I found myself stopping to take a picture every few feet, because in my wildest imagination I couldn’t have created the colors and vibrant scenery. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
About thirty minutes in, I passed by a fellow hiker, who commented, “And I thought I had the woods to myself today.” I smiled back and said hello, but I knew what he meant. It’s so empowering and almost cozy thinking you are the only one being enveloped by the surrounding woods–the sound of another’s footsteps disturbing the peace of your own solitude with nature.
As the afternoon wore on, the wind picked up and dark ominous clouds rolled in. I cut my hike short to avoid the storm, because the forecast called for heavy storms, but when I got back to my car, still no rain. I decided to tempt fate and take the one mile walking loop to make the most of the day, and continue to enjoy the colors.
On my way out, I stopped at a local farmer’s stand and got locally grown squashes and garlic. I may be not be able to make the colors of fall last longer, but as it rains outside my window, and the leaves are slowly, continuous falling to the ground, I have homemade pumpkin goulash in the oven to look forward to. It may not be the colors of fall, but at least it’s the taste of it.
Earlier this afternoon, as I was sitting on my couch, I looked out the window and wondered, why am I not outside right now? It was beautiful and warmer then usual for an October day. But, I just didn’t feel like walking. I had no motivation to drive to a park and trek through the trees. Odd yes, but it happens. As the day progressed, I decided to at least open the windows to enjoy the fresh air. This led to me walking out on the porch and deciding to put away my outdoor things before it got cold–this included my bicycle. I hadn’t rode it in quite a while, and it was taking a beating from the fall weather. I’m a leisure rider–hybrid bike only good for about 20 miles on a gravel trail, so the idea that I would use it in the winter–silly. It was time to retire it downstairs.
I live in an apartment building with a storage unit. Imagine my surprise when the short walk from my porch to the storage unit turned into a six mile, 45 minute ride on the local rails to trails! It all started when I got on it just to test out the tires, but I kept finding my legs pedaling towards the trail head close to my home. Since this was a complete surprise, I was definitely not wearing the proper clothing nor did I bring any water, and I had to carry my camera and keys in my hand. But that didn’t stop the exhilaration I felt coasting down the big hill at 30 mph and entering the trail surround by fall trees. The chilly wind gave me goosebumps on my bare arms, and my throat became parched from the cold, but it was worth it. It was a short ride, by most cyclist standards, and I had a great time trying to snap shots of the scenery without getting off my bike, waving hello to all the dog walkers and runners, and experiencing that satisfaction and contentment that only the great outdoors can bring me.
This was of course, until I realized I had to ride back up that hill……
Groundhog sightings: 1
Stops made while climbing up the hill: 2
One of the best things about having to drive to the extremes of the city, is being nearby to parks that I would not have normally visited, or maybe even given a second glance. Today’s walk was through a small, yet picaresque “park” north of city with the promise of a waterfall. Besides, this was directly on the heels of good job news, and I wanted to take advantage of the free time I had, and the nice fall weather. I couldn’t pass up the great opportunities afforded to me.
The park was a heavily wooded area that only gave me a few miles of path, but those miles were beautiful. The trail lead me into a small forest, that zigzagged across a small stream. Each zig & zag led me to cross numerous wooden bridges, until I found myself in front of a small, but lovely waterfall with a great view.
I’ve lately thought about bringing along a pedometer to measure my steps, but that suddenly turns my walks into exercise and not leisure. I know me, and I’d be distracted by how many calories I was burning, or how far I had gone, instead of enjoying every step no matter the distance.
Today, I also thought about bringing along my iPod. I love listening to books on CD, and how cool would it be, listening to a good story while walking through the trees? It could even by a Bill Bryson novel, or a travel book that echoes the scenery and season. But why listen to other people’s travels, when I need to enjoy my own? I’d miss the wind through the leaves, the trickle of water in the stream, the rustling of leaves from squirrels and chipmunks running to and fro, and the sweet chirps of the cardinals and bluebirds in the area. Plus the deer!
The leaves are almost completely fallen from the trees, and the weather is getting wilder and colder. Winter walks won’t be nearly as pretty or as soothing as today’s journey, but I look forward to those just the same.