Thursday, March 09, 2017

"Rules for Hiking"

  • Hiking is walking, not running. Don't race.
  • Keep your hands free (empty). Don't carry anything big in your hands or walk with your hands in your pockets. This means no walking sticks.
  • Talk quietly so only the people in your group can hear you. Don't disturb other people.
  • Keep a steady pace. Hum a song quietly to help you.
  • Drink plenty of water and snack when you feel hungry - BUT- don't take your first break until you've walked for at least a half an hour. That lets you set a good pace.
  • Let a grown up know if you get 'hot spots' on your feet. Stop and take care of them BEFORE they turn into blisters, which hurt a lot more.
  • Don't pick any flowers or other pretty things. Leave them for the next people to enjoy. The only exception is wild fruit like blackberries or blueberries. Thy make a great treat, and give you energy, but only eat what you want while you're hiking. Don't pick them to eat later on.
  • Take home everything you brought with you--don't leave anything behind. Even little bits of food, like an apple core or an orange peel, can make things less fun for the next people to come through.
  • Leave things better than you found them. Carry a small trash bag and pick up any trash that you might find. The animals will appreciate it, and you set a good example for other people, too.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017


This lonely two-lane unrolls beneath the furrowed sky, feeling as something long lost out of time. It recalls so clearly another road from long ago—decades and half a thousand miles removed. But here and now, it is a cold grey sky that drops sleet from time to time in desultory fashion: then and there it was thick heavy air charged with the long day’s heat, wrapped casually like a snake around the inevitable thought of a storm.

Before, beyond or beside the interstate, the road creeps inconspicuously, hidden behind the long rolls of hill. It runs direct on the literal verge of people’s daily life, right up to the point where public becomes private, personal becomes universal—no margin, no transition. Yellow line, white line, clothesline.

Retrograde—to the right run the mountains, and along them most certainly runs a path even less dramatic than this little road. It may be an animal path, a foot path or a dirt trail. But they nest this way—path, trail, two-lane road, U.S. Highway, Interstate Highway, and a railroad nestled in there someplace—a veritable Matrushka doll of transportation options, largest to smallest.

I choose the middle way, and it suits me well in this moment of—being lost. I have more time on my hands than I have thoughts to fill it. The slow road serves me.

I have traversed this road at least once before, though certainly not much more than that. We rode northward from the deep furrowed Alleghenies towards and through Winchester on Beast, many years ago. It is a faint recollection, run backwards as though rewinding a movie, with certain junctions clearly recalled and many miles faint and vague. It amuses me to note that I am slowly drifting westward, away from the heart of the valley (and my eventual destination) towards its western boundary. 

In reality, I have overshot my destination by many miles in a wide circle, and I end up approaching it from the opposite direction. No matter. I have nowhere to be, nothing to do. And still I arrive too early.