Walk of Life

The 10 mile hike I did Sunday was remarkable reminiscent of my life so far. The Childhood phase; a bouquet of wonder, hope, optimism and adventure. Young adulthood: discovery, boredom, confusion and experimentation. Full on adulthood brings about a “Settling-in” and reaping of the fruits of decisions made. Quite pungent for just a 10 mile hike I know but in these parts, it doesn’t take much for the deep things of life to unravel as you walk.

 

Being December, I would rather be bundled up, strapped to a waxy pair of wood and fiberglass, surrendering myself to the pull of gravity and carving S-turns on a mountain face. However, given that the temperature was 52 degrees with nary a snowflake on the ground, Hotrod and I decided to head out for a hike. 17 mile trail is a popular one in Savage river state forest, straddling the ridge on Big Savage Mountain, one in the chain that runs from Garrett County through Allegheny Maryland. From the trail head, you get a good view of Negro mountain and the adorning windmills. I have a love/ hate relationship with windmills; they provide great compositional contrast at closer range but present an eyesore when you can see more than 5 on a mountain top, pardon the digression.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The first 3 miles were very enjoyable, we walked and caught up on family and Christmassy stuff, we stopped and tried to evaluate the amount of noise pollution claimed to be created by said windmills. We checked out trees with some sort of tumorous growth and hypothesized on possible etiology. We got off trail a couple times from laughing and not paying attention, we ran to a hunter on his way home after an unsuccessful outing (nice T/C omega stainless steel muzzleloader with camo stock)…Childhood

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By mile 5, it had become apparent to us that this was a “dead-man walk”; the trail had no openings, vistas or overlooks. The timber was small and numerous akin to waking through a bamboo plantation. Why then is this trail so popular I wondered? The only thing I saw besides consecutive selfies of my boots was a mole that swiftly bee-lined for the nearest hole, even all the birds must already be working on their tan down south. The saving grace was the cut out for the Pennsylvania power line that gave respite to our march… Young Adulthood

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We soldiered on for another 300 yards or so and decided to break for lunch and decide our next course of action. We could either keep on going and hope the hike gets a little more interesting or pull the plug and retrace our steps (and hope the hike gets more interesting). Decisions was made, calories had been burnt, wives appeased (temporary exile of 2 grumpy guys who can’t ski or bike due to the weather) now it was time to accept that we probably would have been better served going for a bike ride, albeit a flat and windswept one. We decided to accept the consequence of our actions and salvage the walk as best we could… Adulthood

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At the end of the day, after taking stock, this is chucked into the “oh well” bin. The key is that you go out and do something; this hike could very well have turned out to be an epic one, one to be returned to every year. Alas, such is life.

Often, I mourn childhood, wishing a return to the days of infinite optimism and a vivid short term memory, when failures are quickly forgotten as well as victories, but on days like these, the failures also make triumph that much more precious and the quest for them insatiable. On this day, we were the victors and the vanquished.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

Let’s start afresh…

posted-in-hiking-night-hikes-2-comments500-x-331-76-kb-jpeg-x

In the recent past, this blog has gone black for multiple reasons, most of which I plan to rectify. It is not that things have not happened worth sharing, but I seem to have that desire to always wow, always sound “deep” and profound resulting in superfluous, poorly edited posts. So, henceforth there will be many posts on personal muses and random brain cobwebs in an effort to keep this blog fluid and alive. I hope you stop by.

Today’s thought is “Darkness!” que scary movie sound effects. I know that sounds grim and “unchristmasy” but stay with me. Last night, in lou of the eminent Christmas caloric gorging, I went for a hike to at least make a dent in the upcoming gut distention. Rocky gap state park is one of my favorite places ever, it was there I first mountain biked, Kayaked, camped, did a triathlon, hiked to name a few, so it has a soft spot in my heart. As expected during this time of the year, it was already dark at 5:30pm when I set out. I had my down jacket, insulated gloves, beanie, headlamp, and Eureka 300lumen flashlight. It was spitting rain and mist rose out of the lake, which the trail circumnavigates.

Getting on the Overlook trail, I was immediate accosted by a thick fog, the beam of my headlamp was obscured by the haze of moisture in the air. I could actually see better with my lights off, so I turned it off and walked in darkness. My eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness, I am a little afraid but I also experience a mixture of heightened awareness and ease slowly wash over me. My mind begins to open up, thoughts unravel, it seemed the woods are alive and they listen in, old tree and I, we listen in. We now seem parts of the same mechanism in fellowship together before a sleeping sun.

Surprisingly I recognize he familiar feeling of nostalgia, I have felt this way before. I felt this when as a young boy I would go the village in Imo state, Nigeria with my family for Christmas. There was always something different about the darkness there, something more natural, more inviting even. It was not just darkness that came with the decent of the sun beyond the horizon, it was darkness that was born out of a palpable powering down of people who had done all they could do for that day. It was a more peaceful darkness, one peppered with soft voices of neighbors, ancient distant lullabies, and occasional cacophonous ramblings of the village drunk. Darkness in urban settings seem to come with a forced edge to it, it seems artificial…expected. It is expected that by 11 all lights should be turned off, children tucked in, music turned down and gates locked. Darkness does not seem to bring about a gradual unwinding rather it commands a shutdown. Today’s darkness brought with it, the chatter of birds bedding down, crickets creaking or rodents rustling.

I walked quietly, lost in thought, being one with the trail and welcoming the darkness.