The heavy gravel of the parking area roughly announced our arrival.
Low clouds afforded even luminance over this ridge top as we gathered up minimal necessities.
Soon we are off across the ridge trail through dense clear cut wisely replanted with a variety of pine and protected deciduous hardwoods.
Several hundred yards and the native forest beckons and we begin our trail descent adjacent to dual steep draws. The forest now surrounding us awakens our inner selves and the exertion begins to unwind our physical beings until both draw us into nature’s sanctum of bliss.
Blue blazes eventually flatten out onto this hollow’s bedrock and we begin to carefully attune our senses with our ever changing environment.
The meandering stream burbling quietly on it’s never-ending quest, a far off woodpecker’s hammering echo, the silence pervading throughout, lush scents of decay and renewal surround, all together pleasuring our souls.
Given some moments to attune ourselves into this environment, we begin to enjoin each other with personal discoveries; luminance conveying the forest floor, particular spring wild flowers beginning their annual renewal, towering rock outcrops hosting impossible hemlocks with root systems searching in gravity defiance locked wonderfully into the sandstone fissures, domino affected fallen timbers strewn in various stages of decay, all assemble themselves into this day’s reverence.
Pausing often to inspect and reflect as gestures present themselves, we pass ancient birch with carved remembrances; AJ 64 the oldest visited, stream beds of innumerable erosional testaments teasing the mind towards ancient geologies, silent reflectance of the forest in wider stream pools as luminance advances subtly and seductively, we slowly begin an ascent along a swerving hollow.
Understated and slight changes occur as we hike slowly higher through this section of forest, the trail cluttered but firm throughout.
Eventually we top out into the ecosystem of younger less dynamic hardwoods and the surroundings take on an adolescence feel.
We stop at a sign barely recognizable on the trail floor, having fallen from its post long ago. It’s message reveals that this is the far end of this particular preserve.
We stop to hydrate and reconnoiter our surrounding and spend some time unveiling our inner soundings each of us gathered from this trek. At length, we reverse course and begin the return journey.
Our initial hike allowed the larger revelations while the return gave opportunities to cast a wider net of this enhanced hollow.
Our senses, now attuned, we drifted pleasurably towards our source.
Along the stream, recent but less defined footprints from a fellow hiker gave some sense of their participation along this route, numerous and varied birds, having awakened or gathered since our trail inception, each announced their presence in their own mannerisms, unseen plants slightly awakening from the soil now are visible with slow inspection, we eventually reach the trail segment that begins our trek steeply upwards towards the initial trail-head and finality for the morning.
A brisk ascent and we top the ridge again and meander back through the brush to the truck.
Gear stowed, we begin a leisurely drive across the lesser back-roads and home for a fresh cup of coffee.
Dusty & Val