I couldn’t believe my luck. On my day off, the weather decided to warm up to the mid 60s. What did I decide to do, go hiking! I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to get outside in the sunshine in the middle of winter. Winter is tough season for me. I thrive in the outdoors and HATE being cold, so you can imagine how I feel being cooped up indoors for months and trying to stay warm. It’s also not good for my waistline–too much sitting, too much eating!
I was smart this time–I wore appropriate footwear–calf length water proof boots. They were a little too warm for the weather, but my feet and legs stayed dry as I sloshed through the mud, melted snow, streams, and left over ice all along the trail.
It had been so long since I hiked miles, up hills, down hills, that my calves are sore today. It’s awesome!
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.
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.