After a lazy morning yesterday--let the chickens out, water the seedlings, have some breakfast, read a bit--my sister-in-law B and I decided to go for a hike. We're both slightly injured at the moment, a bad hip on her side and a trick knee on mine, so we opted to avoid our usual (and mountainous) trails. The little town we live in has a trail that circles it, of which J and I have hiked one small section, and we decided to do the whole thing, as it's mostly flat and we're curious. J thought it was ten miles, but I thought it was seven, and we left at ten with two apples and a bottle of water.
The trail crosses the road not far from our house, so that's where we started. The map gave mileage only for trail sections, and that inconsistently. We do some math, decide we'll be back around two. Across a wide field, then into the woods. It's been rainy and wet for the past week or so, and the trail had gathered a slick coating of mud. B and I slipped and sloshed and bemoaned our muddy shoes. We crossed the highway, and back into the woods.
Up a hill, around and about. Birds everywhere, water and mud everywhere. After a while, the trail deposited us back into town. We checked the map with some surprise - we hadn't gotten nearly so far as we expected. A quick detour to the co-op for another bottle of water and some energy bars, and the churchbells chiming noon. Yellow signs directing us west out of town. Soon we're back in the woods.
The morning started cool and misty, perfect for a hike. But the day gathered heat, the moisture in the air turning sticky. We kept walking. The trail wound through sloshy wetland, up little rocky hills, and back down. At the next crossing, the map showed us that we still hadn't gotten that far. We revised our estimate to a four o'clock return.
At four o'clock we were still some five miles out. Our earlier boisterous conversation had grown progressively more intimate, but now we go for long periods of quiet, all focus on just walking. I broke into my emergency stash of beef jerky, tucked away in my backpack in case I'm stuck out overnight unexpectedly; we'd long since eaten the apples and the energy bars. My knee chanting why why why
and my muddy, blistered feet joined in. The dancing green canopy around us has become a blur. We talk intermittently - of love, spirit, change, and how tired we are - and we do not stop walking.
In the last leg, the trail split. The sign says "long way" with one arrow and "short way" with another. We actually pause a moment, considering, then take off on the short path with a burst of slightly hysterical laughter.
The trail, as it turns out, is 16 miles long. When we got home, we ate and ate and stretched and whined. B eventually summoned the energy to go get us a movie. Today I'm aching, but the knee is happier than I expected. And we finished the whole damn thing, which at mile 14 I was not certain we would do. And it though it took quite a lot longer than we'd planned, was a better way than most to spend a day.