Finding the Sun

I don’t know what I was hoping to find, or hear, or think, or see. All I knew was, after dropping my sewing machine off to be serviced in sunny Martinsburg, WV, I was not going immediately home to Frederick, MD where thick gray mist still covered the entire valley. I found myself pulling into Yankauer Nature Preserve .

My first steps, on a trail covered in soft pine needles still cushy from recent rain showers, took me into a forest glittering with raindrops.

Each sunlit drop clung precariously, and in futility, before beautifully releasing to the Earth. Rejoined with all the other droplets, waiting for the sun to regenerate and empower them to rise once more! To be immense and visible to all who gaze up into the billowing towers of clouds… the gathering of millions and millions of droplets.

The trail mimics a labyrinth, winding to the west, then east, then around again. I am walking into blinding light of the sun, then a few moments on, I find only dark shade in front of me and the warmth of the sun on my back.

Around one turn in the trail I spy a hawk. It spots me too….and takes flight over the Potomac River, then circles back and around until he finds a suitable alternate roost far from me.

Strange, this period between Winter Solstice and New Year’s. Yes, timeless, but more than that. For me, it has been a time of seeing myself as if Picasso had painted me. All angles of my life at once, past, present, even my future self, all vividly present at once.

Too much time and not enough either. I think about how we all get stuck sometimes and wonder whether struggling through is really the right approach to get unstuck. Maybe, like the rain droplets, we need to put our trust in the universe, to a certain extent, and let go.

So…with that said…Goodbye 2019, I release you! It was a hard year, for me and for the world.

Hello 2020! Let me have more sense, show more compassion, and act more responsibly. Let me be regenerated and empowered to take on life!

Hike on!

Yankauer Nature Preserve Shepherdstown, WV

An hour. Not much, but a great respite in the middle of a day that left me feeling like yesterday’s recycled paper towel.

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Yankauer Nature Preserve is just north of Shepherdstown, WV off Scrabble Road. I arrived following Google directions which brought me through Hagerstown, MD, then down I-81.  I’ll go through Sharpsburg, MD, and Shepherdstown, WV, next time…more scenic.  After it was all done, I came back to Frederick that way.

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Stepping onto the trail at Yankauer,  my senses were overcome.  Cedar permeated and the quietness invited me in.  I inhaled deeply, closing my eyes.  The woods said “hello, we are happy you are here.” I answered, “thank you, thank you for being here.”

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The path wound through the brightest of green grass.  New spring grass, still fresh and untrampled.  Later, after spring goes and summer marches in, the grass will become hard and brittle in the intense MidAtlantic heat. 

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But for now, it’s new and inviting, begging for bare feet, picnics, laughter, and, possibly, a glass of wine and holding hands.  I was in love with this moment.  A kodachrome blip on my day of black and white. 

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Here’s to living in color. Raising my glass…Hike on.

C&Ohhhhh Crap! My Feet Hurt! Canal

A couple of years ago I was hiking on the C&O Canal up by Shepherdstown, WV when I crossed paths with a woman who had hiked up from Harper’s Ferry.  I had never thought about hiking to Shepherdstown from Harper’s Ferry.  Since then I hadn’t really ever stopped thinking about it.  I mean, it would be really neat to walk to Shepherdstown and have a great lunch, wouldn’t it?  Well, wouldn’t it??? I finally got the chance to find out! And a few hiking pals willingly agreed to come along. 🙂

We met at the C&O Canal across the river from Shepherdstown, then shuttled to Harper’s Ferry.  Thanks to hiker pal Thelma we were sporting a national park pass and did not have to pay to park at the train station in Harper’s Ferry!  This was a good sign, as were the sunny skies, warm sun and bathrooms in the train station. 🙂

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We left our hiking poles in the car, joking about how tough this flat hike would be.  Queen V commented on the “strenuous” elevation gain as we walked up the ramp to the railroad bridge that crosses the river to the canal.  Crossing the railroad bridge, we descended the spiral staircase down to the canal and headed north to Shepherdstown.
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Chatting lightheartedly, we walked briskly and the miles flew by.  At the first campground hiker pal L promptly tried out a “chair” she found.  Dargans Bend at mile 64.9 called us in for a quick break and stretch, then we were off again! Still all smiles!
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The Potomac River was moving fast in the other direction. Small white capped waves bullied their way south, made ever stronger by the recent heavy rains and melting snow. As beautiful as the river was, after so many miles, it made me feel as if on a treadmill.  Walking, ever walking, were we getting closer?  Except for the small brown mile markers that counted  down the miles, there was no way of knowing.

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Thanks to Thelma for this pic!

 

Near mile marker 65 Queen V and I explored some old limestone kilns and soon after I was pulled off the towpath once again to explore a cave with Anna Marie!
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Then we stomped on to Antietam Creek campground.  Arriving at the campground, it was time to sit down and get off our feet!  That flat walking was taking its toll on all of us.  While we sat there at the campground I kind of drifted off into thoughts like, “I should’ve brought another pair of socks…I hope these sore spots on my feet aren’t blisters…shin splints? No not even thinking about that.” then I looked to the blue, blue sky and caught a glimpse of … is that a…yes, oh, then out loud I exclaimed “hey look!!! an Eagle!!”
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It soared majestically overhead, circling higher and higher, then moved on regardless of how hard we willed it to come and roost in the trees nearby.
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It was now time for us to move on as well, not too much more now!  We can do this! We passed mile marker 71, then 72.  Wait, wasn’t that supposed to be the last one!  We had come almost 13 miles.  My steps were slow now.  Just one foot in front of the other.  It was getting harder. My legs were stiff, and the threat of shin splints was ever greater.  No, no, no! That will not happen!  I took my head out of the pain and focused on the cold beer and taco salad that would be waiting for me in Shepherdstown.
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It worked…I slogged that last mile with dignity (as excruciating as it was to lift each foot and put it down on that blasted hard packed gravel covered canal). Arriving at the car I was definitely ready for comfort and cursed my lack of forethought in leaving my flip flops back in Harper’s Ferry.  I fell into Queen V’s brand new car, feeling slightly guilty at leaving mud on the passenger side floor mat.  But then we were moving.  Oh the pleasure of a car after a long, long, walk!

Hike on!