The Beauty and the Beast of Hiking

HikeItForward-Final-MediumI am so enjoying my autumn hikes. The trees sing in a harmony of colors and the cooler temperatures make the strenuous journey much more comfortable. My hike yesterday morning was sunny, colorful and serene. I only saw two people on the trail (both trail runners who zoomed by me with a quick grunt of greeting and then sped out of sight). Although I have hiked the loop trail at Caesar Creek many times, the seasons transform the path anew with each circuit. There are several bridges along the trail – in fact, they have just constructed a new one in the past month. I love the symbolism of a bridge – spanning a gulf that exists between two entities. Bridge CCBridges are often needed between two people at odds, or with soul mates that are separated by distance, or in the relationship between God and man. Bridges can allow the waters of disagreements to flow downstream forever. Bridges can allow couples to walk hand in hand across dangerous chasms and deep valleys.  And on today’s hike, the bridges were visibly welcoming as they provided a friendly hand over water and rocky gaps.

The falling leaves have covered the trail with their offering to nature’s carpet. I enjoy hearing the rustle of autumn under my feet as I trek down the path. However, there are some concerns about the leaves – they cover up the details of the trail – the rocks and sticks and roots now have a great hiding place as they attempt to trip up the good natured hiker. A little more concentration is required to safely navigate the ups and downs of the woods. Yesterday, I quickly realized that I was on a side trail instead of the main loop so I made an immediate about-face to correct my journey. I stepped on a stick with my left foot which stabbed me in the right foot. At the same time, I tripped over a root buried under the leaves and before I could respond to the situation I found myself headed for a belly flop. Falling seems to go in slow motion. I had time to think several thoughts but no ability to physically alter the consequences. Cascading through my head were statements like, “Ouch, that stick sure hurt my foot,” “I can’t believe I’m falling – I haven’t fallen for over 1000 miles of hiking – pride goes before a fall,” “I wonder if this is going to smart,” ”I’m so glad this is not being recorded.” Once I hit the ground, I was rudely reminded that I was carrying a 25-pound pack on my back. I laid there laughing at myself, going through a mental checklist of workable joints and lack of pain. I found myself cursing and blessing the leaves almost simultaneously. Those dirty dogs had hidden the deadly “snake stick” and the land mine of the trip root. On the other hand, those lush, soft friends had provided a cushioned landing protecting their companion in the woods. Once I figured out how to stand up with the pack still strapped to my back, I decided to continue on with the later thought of appreciation comforting my lack of balance.

Categories: Backpack, Caesar Creek, Gear, Hiking, Thru-Hike, Trail | 1 Comment

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One thought on “The Beauty and the Beast of Hiking

  1. a poetic metaphor! 🙂 great one!

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