This weekend I tried something new.
And I absolutely loved it.
I’ve always felt at peace walking through the woods. Scavenging for rocks, acorns, brightly colored leaves and moss. A sort of treasure hunt without a real purpose. The woods seem to have a way with me. Kind of like the ocean but much, much different.
There are lots of wooded trails I can access just by traveling down the road from my own front door, but this weekend I was lucky enough to travel north into Mount Holyoke Range State Park.
Though the peak of fall foliage has passed and we continue full steam ahead into the holiday season, the woods continue to offer a unique and magnificent beauty. The sun speckles the forest floor as we haul ourselves over dips and peaks, at times the journey seemed to take us straight up to the heavens only to catapult us into a valley that would no doubt require yet another rocky climb. The views, at all times, breath taking.
“Hiker’s coming through” shouted one woman, a member of the trail works team. I’m a hiker. I turned this thought over and over again in my head. I didn’t feel like a hiker. Instead I felt awe and peace and excitement and exhaustion sometimes all at once and at other times, breathing deep, with trembling legs I bounded over unsteady rocks and up the next incline, like a highway’s trail for run away trucks.
The landscape changed as we wound our way 4 miles deep into the range. From white birch to pine, wet leaves to gravel trail. Sun lit warmth to chilled air that seemed to breathe off jagged edges of the horse caves.
Each face we passed, gleaming with sweat, smiled at us. Exchanges about the beauty of this November day were cultivated and shared.
8 miles, 4 hours and 1778 feet of elevation later, we emerged out of golden leaves to the parking area. A stillness from the busy life remained on the winding road and farm lands that dotted the perimeter of the park.
We traveled home. Achey and sore. Ready to embrace hot tea and a home cooked meal. As tired as my body told me it was, my mind felt renewed.
I’m hooked on hiking.