I don’t consider myself a skilled outdoorsman by any means. I’ve never been camping. I can’t build a fire. I’ve never shot a gun. I don’t believe in hunting innocent deer, rabbits and squirrels for game or even eating the fish we catch. I do appreciate being outside in the sunshine, rain or snow. With my family, I enjoy fishing, hiking and being on the water. When my son suggested hiking this morning I did not object. I was beginning to have a craving for it. I’m not sure if this particular craving for nature stemmed from recently watching multiple episodes of Mountain Man on The History Channel or if my subconscious mind was telling me it was time to get a nature fix.
We arrived at our favorite hiking location, checked the map and chose a trail. This time we chose a circular trail that we’d never been on before. On this trail, we’d pass our favorite part of the river and continue on further reaching a lost pool and wrapping around in a circle to return to our starting point. The sky was cloudy and gray when we started out. There was a slight drizzle of rain but the trees sheltered us from it. The sound of passing cars slowly faded away and was replaced by singing birds and rain on the trees. As we walked I deeply inhaled the smell of fallen leaves, the damp earth and the moisture in the air from the river and the rain. We dodged spider webs, walked over branches and through the mud. The clear river flowed in the direction of where were going, showing us the way, beckoning me to be part of it just as it does each time we visit. As we crossed a small portion of the river, instead of walking over rocks to avoid getting my feet wet, I walked through the water feeling it enter my hiking boots, soak my socks and refresh my feet. We proceeded on to our favorite part of the river where we like climbing over large rocks to observe the rough current. After a few minutes we went further into the woods in search of the lost pool. We kept going after we found it. As we continued on my husband realized this trail was longer than what the map indicated and we weren’t even close to the end. The rain was coming hard now and the trees could no longer shelter us. I found myself becoming frustrated because it felt like we were lost even though my husband said we were still on the trail. We turned around and started walking in the direction we came. I focused on walking quickly through muddy puddles and jumping over branches as if I was in an obstacle coarse. Finally we approached the portion of the woods that was familiar to me, that I knew would lead us out of there. I relaxed and enjoyed the trail and physical challenge of the hike. Once again I allowed the river to soak my feet as we crossed it and continued on. We finally reached the end and found our car. My muscles ached. I was soaked and looking forward to a shower and hot coffee but I felt rejuvenated and ready to face the outside world again.