Tuesday, March 17, 2020

16 March 2020

I got back into the woods today after several weeks down with a 2nd bout of flu. I'm anemic, my thyroid meds need adjusting, and before my hike I felt anxious and sad and fretful.  My medical issues will have to wait until the pandemic slows down but hiking alleviated my mental dysfunction as it usually does.

Loch Raven, especially on or near Sam's Grave, is one of my favorite rambles. It's solitary in the middle bits though well used near the trailheads, and I always see and hear lots of wildlife.
I saw red eared sliders, a solitary bufflehead, and a small aquatic mammal that was probably a muskrat but was too far away for me to positively id.

As I was observing the turtles, a couple of oafy kids came thundering past,  and I briefly wished they'd stayed at home playing video games* like normal millenials instead of trail running. I realize that is an absurd thought.

I like people, but I am an introvert and a quiet person, and I find it nearly impossible to find a peaceful, quiet, alone space. My life's goal, from a fairly young age, has been to live in the country.  We live in an uncertain world but I hope and believe that I will realize that dream in about ten years.  But for now, I do wish people would 'let nature's sounds prevail' and I wish I could remember what park I first saw that sign and that all parks would post it. Stfu humans!

When I was about 1.5 miles from my car, I decided to go off trail and climb a very steep ridge to rejoin the trail without all the switchbacking fol-de-rol. This was silly, because my main goal is to maximize mileage.  Taking a 'short cut' decreases my mileage and doesn't save me any time because I'm slower if I've got to climb up a steep and slippy slope.

Climbing ridges is empowering though. Please note the steep drop-off just below that largest tree on the right side of the photo!

Mileage: 7.4 mi
*My 13 yr old son tells me the kids today just say 'games' and, in the case of actual games you play at a table with actual things, they say 'board games'. Maybe only Gen X-ers say 'video games'.

19 January, 2020

Little Gunpowder, Harford to Bottom Rd to Pleasantville; 7.5 miles

I don't advise hiking when you have the flu, but I don't necessarily say you shouldn't.

On this day, I felt mostly recovered from a mild cold. I planned to repeat the last 3 miles of a previous hike and extend that another 4 miles to the end. I'd then have to hike back, for an ambitious 14 mile hike.

I covered the first 3 miles easily,  crossed a bridge over the Little Falls and rambled off trail for a time before climbing up to the main trail, a fairly straight shot along a ridge.  About a mile in, I decided to follow a bike switchback down to the water.  Halfway down, I stopped for a moment to enjoy the sunny blue sky and the brisk white clouds. 

The trail turned.  I felt a cold wind and  looked up to a forbidding sky, with dark gray clouds swirling and churning.  I turned around and looked at the blue sky ahead, then back at the darkening scene behind.  I realized that  I was exhausted and maybe a little feverish.

I had to go back.  My car was 4 miles away in the direction of the stormy sky.  I wanted to hike toward the sun but I'd have to get to my car eventually and I was so suddenly weary.  I spent a few more minutes watching the sun and clouds and wind.  I was half-daunted and half-exhilerated as I hurried back to my car, running on adrenaline all the way.

I did end up pretty sick that week, but I don't regret that hike.  Every walk in the woods gives me great joy.  Some days it's an animal sighting, others it's a peculiar or magnificent tree.  Some days I manage a difficult climb or water crossing.  A few times, I've met another human who lifted my spirits. But I've never taken a walk in the woods and not emerged feeling immeasurably better than before.