Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ridge hike

Last Sunday I hiked up my favorite hill right outside of town.  I don't know why, but a half mile in I turned and followed an abandoned road up a steep hill.  Mostly I avoid roads because they don't offer the experience of being in the trees, and that is what I crave.  This road paralleled the ridge I usually walk, so I had some confidence I would be able to climb a little further east and get on top, maybe somewhere different from my usual hike.

Sure enough, about a mile east I saw an opening leading into the dense brush.  Soon I was climbing an obscure trail toward the ridge line.  As I topped out, I saw a man standing there at the summit.  He asked me if I was almost done with my hike.  The weather was closing in and I assume he was thinking I met get caught in it.  "Depends on where the day takes me I guess," I told him.

I turned west and soon found myself on a two-lane blacktop road.  The trail didn't connect to my ridge line.  I knew it was out there though, off to my right.  So as the weather closed in and the rain started to fall I got into my rain gear and wandered down the road, scanning to the right for the classic tell-tale; a space in the brush, an narrow opening, a wider than average space between two trees.  It was raining hard, and no one was about.

Sure enough, I saw it, about a half mile on: a barely- there opening between the trees.  I jumped the ditch at the side of the road and stepped up onto the trail.  Walked into the deep trees.  Rain tapped on my hat and coat and the tall Douglas Firs swayed  in the south west breeze with a shushing sound, a sound I've always known.  The woods were dark and the trail disappeared into mist about a hundred yards out.

Everything fell away, except the rhythm of my movement, and the swaying trees, dripping rain.  Mist before and behind closed my attention down to this place and time.  I joined the ridge trail and turned west. And for another hour, every step was home.

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