Location: Hampton, CT
Date: January 11th, 2018
Time: 12:15 pm – 3:15 pm
Hike Duration: 3 hours; maybe 2.5 – 3 miles?
Weather: Overcast, 50 degrees
20 days of NOT being in the woods. 20 days of going from house to car to office or house to car to some other building. 20 days of being inside, breathing inside air. All. Day.
It’s been 20 days since we’ve last been hiking and let me tell you, I was beyond ready to go play in the woods today! This was our first hike of 2018 AND our first snowshoe hike of the season. It was 50 degrees today and we’re expecting the same tomorrow with rain. I’m thankful we were able to get some snowshoeing in before it all melts.
We’ve done this hike before, although it was in the fall. We hit some overgrown spots back then that were cringe-worthy when you’re thinking about ticks. It was still a great hike, but we talked about wanting to return in the winter. Today we started at the overlook (find the vista on the trail map) and then back-tracked a bit to do the inner loop of trails.
I feel like I can finally breathe! It feels so good to be breathing this cool, moist air into my lungs. It’s like I’ve successfully exchanged all the stale stuck-inside-air within my being for this fresh, nature air. It’s such a relief.
I was listening to a talk on Sufi spirituality by Fawzia Al-Rawi recently and it struck me when she said…
“We need every day a period of silence and a period of peace. And in that we need contemplation. Contemplation means that I might sit in the garden and watch the trees. I might sit on the shore. I might sit in front of an ant and watch how it moves. All these things are contemplations. It is learning to read the book of nature.”
We have seen a lot of tracks today. That’s one thing I love about hiking in the snow. It’s fun to observe and explore and try to piece together a story or image from what we find. But what I’m really contemplating today is how nature withdraws in the winter. Especially how the deciduous trees withdraw their energy. The leaves eventually fall and the trees almost seem to hibernate.
Winter feels like a time for turning inward; for withdrawing my energy from the outer world and connecting more deeply within my heart. A time where thoughts and ideas and dreams are incubated until it’s time for them to be brought out into the world like the emerging leaves on the trees in spring.
About half way into the inner trail loop, we walk along the the river for a bit and then come to another stone bench. Some of the trees surrounding “Mike’s Bench” have pine cones hanging from them like ornaments. This surprises us and brings a smile to our faces.
After enjoying the magic around Mike’s Bench, we begin our return trek. The steadily inclining trails make for some strenuous snowshoeing back to the entrance. My hips and legs are still feeling the workout as I sit here writing this!