I did it.
And it feels great.
I felt a huge surge of excitement when I laced up my boots and told the kids it was time to head to school. I knew after I dropped off Lydia at middle school I would be heading out to Rogers Gap to get my boots dirty. I think I may have been born in the wrong time period sometimes because I get the biggest thrill and kick out of stuff that would make some people cringe or turn up their noses. I am so glad I have a husband and kids that appreciate the outdoors as much as I do.
It had been a while since I had trekked. And recently I had a pretty big fall in the bathroom that has left me with a badly bruised elbow to the bone. I really figured it was broken it hurts so much, but after xrays it came up to just a badly bruised ego and elbow that hurts like heck and is really annoying me…
But enough of me and my slippery linoleum, back to the woods.
The road at the wildlife management area has been recently improved, so my low profile Scion makes the trip all the way back to the end, which is about a 2 mile drive that I used to have to hike from the parking lot. A nice walk, but not really my idea of a “hike” since it used to be just rocks and gravel and huge ruts in the road filled with water and tadpoles.
Being able to drive past that and to the back made me feel like I was finally sitting at the grown up table!
I will be honest, there are times when I am hiking alone, that I kind of get nervous. Not that I think I am going to get killed or attacked, but more of a “What’s watching me?” Kind of feeling comes over me and I realize it is just a deer or critter that has turned statuesque as I pass by to camouflage itself.
But it’s kind of creepy.
Raised by a hunter, fisherman and avid outdoorsman…I know the drill. I come into the woods protected: against insects and two legged critters as well. I would definitely be a force to reckon with if you were to come up on me unannounced, so announce yourself. With a bear sighting recently in the areas I hike in, my friend Lee- a lady I adore that I sometimes hike with- and I are usually carrying a Bear spray or some form of peppery repellent. Which as silly as it sounds is a great deterrent. Just do a little research and you’ll find that it is safer for the hiker than just about anything else. While the bears that are finally returning here are primarily vegetarians, they are omnivores and can smell a granola bar so I don’t pack in any foods, only water. Opportunistic feeders are hungry most of the time. A healthy ecosystem needs balance, so I don’t blame them. If you conduct yourself properly, make a bit of noise, they will leave your area and give you space.
This trip was really inspiring, the coolness of the morning was still lingering in the air so the insects were mostly still hopping, crawling and not flying. Which gave me a freedom I wasn’t used to since late Winter. No bugs in my face or trying to fly around my ears. It was lovely. Usually there is a horsefly buzzing me constantly to the point where it sounds like there’s a chainsaw on my head.
I walked in about 1.5 miles, I spotted a red tailed hawk that flew from tree to tree welcoming me back and then a Peregrine falcon swooped down into the brush and made something scatter. Although I didn’t see any, there was a Tom Turkey that was searching desperately for a mate down in the valley that piqued my interest but after battling some high grass and sketchy vines I doubled back headed to the car. I figured 3 miles was a great start back. I had on my camel pack and sipping the occasional drip of water had me hydrated and quite honestly I was feeling really good. I was taking a few photos and then looked up and saw a fellow hiker heading towards me, a seasoned fella with two aluminum walking sticks.
He took his hike much more seriously than I did.
We stopped and talked about hiking trails around the area and he really had some interesting news and some tips for me with regards to hiking and alerting me that my white bandana I had around my neck really did look like the backside of a deer through the woods and since bow season for whitetail just began, and then regular hunting season is soon I might want to switch to hunters orange or bright pink. I was very appreciative since I like living and everything.
There is something really cool about meeting someone in the woods, in the quiet and stillness and having a conversation. It almost feels like you are back in time, passing a hunter/gatherer in the woods and sharing some news from the neighboring village. He was really a nice man. I took this photo as he passed on down the road. I forget his name, but he was worth talking to. I hope I run into him again.
I finished my trek and as the sun started to reach higher in the sky the deer flies came out and attacked me before I reached my car.
They were back.
In full force.
I tried to run, but the road was just way too rocky, I already had a nearly broken arm, the last thing I needed was a twisted ankle, so I just swatted and flittled about until I reached my silver toaster.
Those deer flies were ferocious, bouncing off my car windows so hard I felt like I was in the Stephen King Movie, “The Mist” and prehistoric creatures were going to eat me alive. One stayed on my car window and was determined to get a taste of middle aged mother. But thanks to the long ride out he gave up and headed into the woods for some deer flesh.
I felt so good after my hike.
I had done it.
On my own.
As the sun began to rise high enough in the sky to cast shadows, I stopped the car for a moment in the road and took in my journey.
I was so elated.
It was officially here.
And I am going to Bring it.