Yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t stand being indoors anymore and decided to go for a walk on the local Rails to Trails again. The weather was cold, but sunny, a weather anomaly I have always enjoyed. It’s thrilling feeling the sun on my face, but the cold in my bones. Of course, if you add wind, I wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much. But luckily yesterday, the weather was perfect.
The last time, I tried just walking the trail, I ended up running the trail and did not try any of those side trails that I have always intended on exploring. This time, I vowed not to let the music convince me to go any faster than a leisurely stroll. Before heading down tot he trail I went walking through a local housing development and I found a horse stable! I had no idea that it was there and discovered an awesome old cabin.
Once on the trail, I had the music cranked up and began looking for unmarked trails through the woods. I found one soon and climbed a very steep hill into the trees ready to explore the scenery. Almost immediately, I turned off the music. It was this instantaneous need that compelled me to walk in the quiet. It was as though music was fine when walking a less scenic gravel road, but the woods demanded my undivided attention.
The trees were literally creaking in the wind. It was the most wonderful sound. Many times I stopped just to listen to the trunks sway in the breeze, and occasionally emit a crack amid the silence. The woods were right–the music would have ruined the experience and I would have missed the songs of nature.
Today I felt compelled to go outside. I needed fresh air, I needed to hike. It was an insistent urge. I have been feeling out of sorts, sad, restless, unsatisfied. It could be any number of things, but I knew staying inside was a bad idea. And so I turned to the woods.
I didn’t want to drive 45-60 minutes to a state park, I just wanted to step outside my door. So I decided to walk along the rails to trails near my home. And I couldn’t wait either. I went early in the morning, when it was still quite cold. I could have waited maybe an hour or two to get some sunlight and warmth, but I couldn’t. Not one more second could be wasted inside. I needed to move.
Up until now, I’ve left the music at home, but this time around I brought my iPod to drown out some of the construction and car noises that I usually hear along parts of the trail. And I quickly figured out that there is a reason why an iPod is not the best companion when hiking through nature. For the first few miles, I was fine. I listened to a stream of sad melancholy songs that seemed to echo my mood. But as the shuffle continued, songs started to play that I wanted to move to. It became increasingly difficult to stroll. So I ran. Which was surprising to me, because I hate running. But today, I guess I needed it. I ran.
How sad it’s been that I haven’t had the opportunity to take any new hikes in the past month. I can’t complain too much really–I have a job, and have been able to spend time with good friends. Hiking wasn’t a top priority, although, I think I need to reassess my priorities. Why not have it be towards the top of the list. I work out to keep my body in good health, why not hike to keep my mind in good health? Of course, the other obstacle is the weather. Hurricanes and cold have kept me mostly indoors, and as the months continue it will get worse. Did I mention that I hate being cold? It will take a strong will to get me outdoors as the temperatures drop.
But yesterday, I did take advantage of a few moments in the early afternoon to revisit a local park. The leaves are gone, or brown underfoot, but when you look closely enough, you can still see beauty. Without leaves, the trees are exposed, and vulnerable. Leaves no longer hide the tangle of branches and rough trunks. They do just the opposite of us. They shed all layers to protect themselves from the cold, while we constantly add more.
I did find a few trees still golden with the very last yellows of fall.