Feb 18 2010

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Winter Hike

Posted at 9:20 am under Blog Post

Several inches of hard-packed snow lay beneath an inch of fluffy stuff, making conditions good for hiking, so I left my snowshoes behind when I went to Honey Hollow last week.  With a rucksack loaded full of essentials and my dog, Matika, at my side, I started up the narrow lane.  The lane was closed for winter but someone had groomed it for skiers or snowmobiles.  No matter.  I had it all to myself that chilly, overcast day.

Half a mile up the wintry lane, I left it for a trail leading down towards Preston Brook.  Matika and I followed the trail until it emptied into a small yard harboring an ancient wild apple tree.  There we picked up a set of deer tracks running parallel to the brook.  A light snow fell as man and dog disappeared into the woods.

I traced those deer tracks for a half hour or so, as my canine companion cavorted all over the place.  Happy dog, sniffing and running.  Man plodding along.  The brook murmured beneath the ice, peeking out occasionally from broken seams.  Patches of hemlock green adorned the otherwise naked forest.  The snow blanketing the ground muffled all sound.  I passed a fresh, rectangular hole drilled into a nearby dead tree, but no woodpecker came into sight.  No birds at all, in fact.  Intense quiet.

I unrolled my foam pad atop a snow-covered boulder next to the brook, and sat down on it.  Short lunch break at midday.  Matika ate a cup of kibble from a hole I dug in the snow then lined with plastic.  I nibbled an energy bar left over from a backpacking trip last summer, dreaming of warmer days.  Although shrouded by ice and snow, I recognized a deep pool in the brook about twenty yards downstream and imagined casting my line in there again as I have many times in the past.  Hmm…  Opening day of trout season still two months away…

Sometimes I come out here to ponder the mysteries of the universe.  Other times I come out just to sit quietly by the brook, letting its gentle murmur wash away all my thoughts.  The chill of my own sweat got to me, though, before either thought or no-thought could occur.  I packed up my rucksack and headed farther upstream.  The surrounding mountains were calling my name.

At some point early in the afternoon, I gave up my aimless wandering and returned to the lane.  Then it was an easy walk out, crisscrossing the tracks of animals just as restless as me.  The snow flurries, which had stopped at midday, started up again.  I reached my car much faster than expected.  And I ran the car heater full blast during the long drive home.

It was good to get out and stretch my legs, but I’m really looking forward to spring.  Hungrier for it now than I’ve been in years.  Not sure why.

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