First Days of a New Year

After going for a run and getting some errands done I’m sitting for a few minutes before I need to make an artichoke dip for a party tonight at a friend’s house. It started snowing earlier, started sticking to the roads. The forecast predicts a wintry mix with possible accumulation of 1 – 3″ and I’m torn, I’d like to hunker down in front of a fire and see a blanket of white when I look out of my windows but I’m looking forward to seeing the friends I didn’t see over the holidays. Their house is several towns away, the drive can get dicey so we’ll have to play it by ear.

For now, I’m reflecting on the first few days of the New Year. January 1st started slow, we got up late, sat in the living room drinking coffee. Bill got this book about hiking from a co-worker and we turned the pages looking for one to do; the closest was an hour and a half away so we made a plan to get up and go the following day, Friday.

After our late breakfast we drove up the street to Sleeping Giant and hiked from Tuttle Road along trails we had never been on. Bill tested his gopro, it came with a head strap for his bike helmet but he jerry-rigged it to the front of his backpack and video taped the back of me hiking, climbing, rock scrambling. We passed a few people on the trails, wished them a Happy New Year, but we were mostly alone, walked for long stretches without seeing another soul. At home we watched the ten short videos Bill shot, laughed each time he captured his hand adjusting the lens up, something he won’t need to do once he buys the chest harness.

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across the street from the trail head on Tuttle Road

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Red Trail at Sleeping Giant

We woke on Friday morning to the cell phone’s alarm. While Bill made coffee and got the milk and cereal out for our breakfast I filled snack bags with mixed nuts and pretzels, pulled a banana from the bunch, stuffed everything into the front flap of our packs. We were on the road a little after 9:00, at Cobble Mountain’s trailhead in Macedonia State park by 11:00. We referred to the map one last time before I tucked it in my pack and started the steep ascent.

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Clear and cold at Macedonia Brook State Park

I started the hike with my camera swinging from my right wrist but put it in my jacket pocket so I’d have full use of both arms. The trail is tagged as moderate to strenuous; we had no sooner started when the path led up in a quick, steep climb. There were sections I scrambled up rocks, taking care to secure my hands and feet in crevices and tree roots and anything else available to assist me. There were sections I alternated sliding on my butt and crab walking down the short steep rocky areas. There were sections of lovely flat terrain and mountain top views.

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Up

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View from near the top

We saw two other couples, both walking their dogs, one near the beginning of our hike the other near the end. In between I told Bill it felt like we were the only people out there, the only two on the mountain. The only noise we heard was the wind blowing through the bare trees, no voices, no cars, not even birds chirping. We stopped at a campsight, deserted for the season, sat on a picnic table and ate our snacks. The air was crisp and cool but not so cold that I couldn’t take my gloves off to snap a few pictures. I love being outside, inhaling clean air deeply through my nose, exhaling a white plume of breath out of my mouth. There’s no need to fill the air, the space, the atmosphere with chatter, Bill and I were quietly content.

The descent was much easier; we walked along a ridge before the trail gently sloped down. When we got back to the car and flipped the book open to the page with the map we realized we had hiked it in the opposite direction, started where we should have finished, finished where we should have started. It made no difference.

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