The New Trail

An old trail

The pleasure of hiking a new trail is like reading a new book.  Each turn of the trail is like the turn of a page.  You never know what will come next, but you continue with unbridled anticipation.

Each new scene is for the first time, yet impatience often leads the mind to conjecture what lies ahead before the actual scene is revealed.  Often the predictions are fallacious but the result can be pleasure or disappointment.

But you push forth with both your mind and your senses.  You examine the all encompassing surroundings both close and at a distance.  You hear the rustle of leaves with your aural senses and the magic of vision allows you to focus in on the scampering squirrel that caused the rustle and triggered the reaction to your senses.  A stream is ahead… you know this because you can hear it before it comes into view.

The smells of the trail are new as well.  The mustiness of a moist decaying forest floor disturbed by your steps or the breeze at a ridge that reminds you of another time and place.  The seasonal smells of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.  All distinct on their own, but when blended and infused with the scent of the trail, help create a future reminiscence of this particular trail.

Often a trail will lead you through various environments.  You might start through a forest with the morning mist dancing just above the floor and later trudge through a marshy area with swarms of mosquitoes and the croaks of frogs.  As you lean into an uphill section a breezes frees you of the biting menace and evaporates the perspiration providing a coolness to your skin.  A ridge provides scenes that were hidden in the dense canopy below and reveals the spectacle of the trail yet to come.  The warmth of the sun motivates you to trek towards that newly discovered section of trail.

You unintentionally kick an acorn which necessitates an upward glance to confirm what you already know; an oak tree is somewhere above.  You observe a large burl on the side of a tree and wonder what size bowl it would make if sliced off and carved.  You observe moss on the side of a tree and wonder if it is the north side, knowing that moss actually grows on all sides of tree.  Although the day is warm, a sudden drop in ambient temperature reveals you have entered a microclimate, and  the coolness feels good.  But just as quickly the temperature returns to normal and you know you have passed through this phenomenon of nature.

As you round a corner you stop abruptly.  A doe and her fawn, with its camouflaging spots to hide in the underbrush, stand alongside the trail ahead.  They don’t run, but they know you are there.  The fawn continues to nibble as the mother watches you with mistrust.  As you remain stationary the standoff continues, until the doe cautiously crosses the trail, never taking an eye off your position.  She disappears over a slight ridge, with the fawn in tow.  Your hike can now continue.

The turns and discoveries continue until suddenly, as you round a corner, the trail ends and your time here is over.  You leave the trail as you would close a book… sometimes satisfied, yet sometimes not.  But either way, a day on a new trail is better than a day at work.

A root covered trail

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One thought on “The New Trail”

  1. Beautiful! It feels like opening a great new book everytime i walk a new trail or go of the beaten path! My favorite things to find are freshly bloomed flowers, plants, walking up on a stream, or even seeing an animal in the wilderness for the first time! Like this on place called Yellow Branch falls in Walhalla SC. The hike is ruffly two mile to the falls. Around 100 foot from our destination we see a timber rattlesnake stretched out on the trail. It was so beautiful just watching it. Us having children with us we also needed to think quickly. So I grabed a limb long enough to keep a safe distance. Then scooped it up and safely relocated it off of the trail. It was a good 4 foot long. Totally the most beautiful snake I have seen in person! Thank you john

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