It’s 3PM on Friday and, though my earlier hike was quite enjoyable, it seems that maybe I should try going a bit further. The problem is that I don’t have any maps of the hiking trails in the area. Fifty yards from Walden, however, is a yellow sign that says “Closed to motor vehicle” (sic). Remembering from my Old Testament class that people don’t make laws prohibiting something that people were not doing, it occurred to me that there must be something there that would make people want to take motor vehicles that way. A while ago I walked down and looked at the sign and lo! Behind it is a trail. I don’t know where it goes, but it must go somewhere, so I can walk on that trail and see where it goes.
I get all geared up. I pack my Flash 18 Ultralight Technical Daypack (I got it in the Nettle/Pewter) with the same stuff that was in it before, the apples, the pumpkin seeds, water (which I didn’t drink on my earlier trek), the hammock, books, and noise canceling headphones. Yes. Noise canceling headphones are absurd unless you’re on an airplane. I recently rode on an airplane and was very glad to have them. Once I got on the road and found that I had them I was a bit annoyed. As it turns out, though, they’re the only decent headphones that I have, since I think I left my good ear buds in Atlanta.
And now I’m off. As I approach the trail head (dig the hiker lingo!) I turn on my silly exercise app that, upon starting to exercise, says “Today is your day!” I have no voice or data coverage here, but GPS works, so it can still see how far I’ve gone, which seems useful.
So now, I’m doing it. I’m hiking. Yep, just me and nature. Walking up the trail. Less than a quarter mile up the trail are some really cool big boulders. They’re cool, so cool that if there were many more like them, I’d want to name a town Boulder. I would take a picture of them if only I could remember that my camera is also a phone. I step off the tail to check out the Really Big Rocks. As I stand in awe, my exercise master says “Pause,” but it really sounds much more like “Poss.” And on I go. There are a couple really cool flowers that I should take my good camera out to get shots of. It’s odd how these little tiny flowers just spontaneously appear out here. Perhaps they are why people walk around in the woods for no good reason.
I go on. The task master says that I have been a mile in twenty two minutes. Sounds good. I figure I’ll walk two miles or an hour, whichever is less and then find a place to deploy the hammock and read for a while. I’m still trying to relive some of the magical week in the cabin mentioned previously. I am sure that I won’t be able to have sex while watching dolphins swim, which was another highlight of that trip, but surely I can find a nice place to read in the hammock.
I follow the trail. Periodically there are little plastic flags, some with rather cryptic stuff written on them. I walk on. Eventually, the trail comes to an end at a bigger trail. It’s too soon to stop. Just as I am trying to find some breadcrumbs to drop, I notice that someone has fashioned an arrow on the ground out of some rocks and limbs. I am pretty sure that the road that I drove in on is to the left, so I head off to the right, hoping that something interesting will be there. The trail goes down, and down, and down. I am keenly aware that to return I will have to walk back up, but the two miles aren’t up yet, so down I go. I am told that I have been two miles in forty one minutes. I start looking for somewhere interesting to set up the hammock. I swear that not much I have seen is as nice as the view I had on my earlier two hundred yard hike.
One interesting thing that I notice is that all of a sudden the trees have changed. Before there were only pines, but now there are some leafy trees, that I think might be aspens. I look up the hill a ways and there are some interesting looking rocks and a few trees. It’s not too far off the trail, so I’m hoping that if something goes badly wrong someone might find me and I won’t have to sever a limb. I check to make sure that I have my knife, just in case.
I find two trees and start to set up the hammock, but they are two far away. I am able to use another nearby tree, so I don’t have to move both of the hammock hanging things. Finally, things are getting set up. The hammock is hung. I disrobe, carefully hanging my clothes on the hammock so that I can get them quickly if needed. I read more of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In case you don’t know, it’s about a guy who had been a college professor but went crazy and goes on a long road trip. I read for a while and eat some pumpkin seeds and an apple. I drink some water and notice that, in spite of my rinsing, it tastes a bit like the scotch that he been in that aluminum bottle previously. It’s not unpleasant, though. I read more.
The temperature has gone from warm, to hot, to starting to be cool. It’s about 4:40. I had been planning to leave by about 5:00, which, if I walked much slower than I had on the way there, would get me back to Walden at 6:00, hours before dark. I get all packed up and head back. I stop to look back to make sure that I hadn’t left anything. I notice that the hammock-hanging things are still on the trees. I retrieve them and hit the trail at 4:47. I’m walking back up, up, and am looking for the uber-obvious arrow that someone had put down. No sight of it. I’m going down and down. I don’t remember going up on this big trail. I look at the exercise app. Without connectivity, it can’t get a map, but it does show a long path, part of it doubled, and then it splits off another direction. I missed the arrow. I go back. I fuss with the zoom on the map thing to try to see where I missed the turn, near the top (one of those plastic flags had said something like “ridge trail”) seemed to be the place. I walk back and forth a bit and finally find the arrow.
I head on back down the trail. I run for a bit, but then start walking again. I stop at an interesting looking set of rocks and get off the trail to check it out. Someone has stashed a folding chair there, and it looks like some other stuff might be hidden under a rock behind it. I decide that I’m not interested or not a voyeur and head on.
Finally, I see Walden. It’s pretty warm in the late afternoon sun. I think that now would be a fine time to move Walden to a nearby site that’s further off the road and has some shade. The previous occupant had left before I started my hike. As I look toward the site, I see, can it be? A gray Volkswagen Westfalia, just like Walden.
I return to Walden and play guitar for a while, trying to decide just what line to use to approach the fellow-Westfalia strangers. I wouldn’t walk up on just anyone, but we’re kindred spirits, and they obviously saw Walden when they decided to park there.
I muster some courage, pour a glass of wine, contrive a story about needing someone to help drink a bottle of bubbly, and walk over to see them.