Jun 15 2010

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A Sense of Direction

Posted at 8:49 am under Blog Post

It wasn’t easy getting up for a hike as rain gathered on the windshield of my car, but I knew I’d see things differently once I was in the thick of things.  My dog, Matika, didn’t care.  She’s up for a hike anytime, anywhere, in any weather.  So I parked my car, grabbed my rain hat, and stepped into the woods.

At first I thought I’d just follow the overgrown skidder trail a short distance beyond the beaver pond, then turn around.  But my legs wanted more.  Despite the bugs, drizzle and tall, wet grass, I was enjoying the walk.  So I kept going until I reached a small clearing illuminated by gray light.  There the skidder trail fragmented into several sketchy paths shooting different directions.  And there, true to my natural inclinations, I chose the path less traveled and ventured deeper.

I recognized the path.  I had walked it a year earlier until it had completely disappeared into the brush.  Shortly after that, I had been turned around for an hour or so.  With that in mind, I checked the compass dangling around my neck.  Yeah, this time I was ready for the wily ways of French Hill.

I followed the fading path until it crested a ridge.  Then it vanished.  I bushwhacked down the far side of the ridge until I came to a long, narrow wetland.  I was tempted to cross it and almost did out of sheer impulse.  My sense of direction told me to turn right.  My compass told me to turn left.  “That can’t be right,” I mumbled.  My dog waited patiently for me to make a decision.  I followed my compass.

Anyone who has ever been in this situation knows the rest of the story.  The compass was right, of course.  I soon tagged a game trail that veered back towards the beaver pond.  When I passed through a familiar gap in an old stone wall, I knew where I was again.  And I was back to my car fifteen minutes later.  Of course.

A compass isn’t infallible, and a certain amount of skill is necessary to use it properly.  Yet it has served me well on countless occasions when my “sense of direction” would have led me astray.  There’s a lesson to be learned here, no doubt, regarding subjective and objective thinking.  But I’ve said enough already.  I’ll leave it to others to draw whatever conclusions they so desire.

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