5012, A Summer Solstice Meditation – Hiking the Old Loggers Path

written by Rick Minogue Published: June 23, 2017 Created: 06/23/2015 Entry: 5012

5012, A Summer Solstice Meditation – Hiking the Old Loggers Path

A cool, rainy, Tuesday Morning, June 23, 2015 – At the Cabin

This is the third year in a row I’ve come to the cabin with the express intention of loop hiking the Old Loggers Path. The last 2 years it rained the entire time I was here. Last fall when I started thinking about this trip, I realized that if I came here and got it this time, I would be 60 and it could be a benchmark/birthday gift to myself.

Even in Madrid last week, I checked the long range weather forecast for Forksville. As the week concluded, it was more and more obvious that if the weather held, Monday, June 22 would be my day. It poured down here in Forksville on Saturday night when I dashed out of the Eagles Nest, and it rained on and off on Sunday, including while I sat on the farmhouse porch across the road and was gifted with a rainbow. That afternoon, I ate early so as not to sleep with a full stomach, then ended up texting back and forth with employees over a minor problem.

I set my alarm for 4:45am, Monday morning, June 22nd, 2015

The first thing to admit is that there was enough light in the sky when I woke up that I could have been hiking already. I should have awakened at 4am and been over there at 5. Oh well. I made coffee and put on my clothes. Everything was ready to go and I took the second cup with me to sip on the drive over.

I’d already decided to park about halfway downhill on Yellow Dog Road where the trail crosses. There’s a nice parking pullout, and counter clockwise, there’s a straight, level, and lovely stretch of trail that includes one of the best views on the loop and further beyond, a nice rock outcropping with more good views of the Lycoming Creek valley. That was how I wanted to finish up. I planned to beat my old best time of 9 hours, 3 minutes, walk up to the rental car, drop my stuff, and be fishing on the on PA freestone water by 5:30-6pm. I could do it, too. I felt great, the morning had dawned beautiful and clear, and I knew the stars were aligning.

Setting off down the long first hill, I hummock-hopped to keep my feet dry. Water flowed everywhere and as usual, found the trail and either side of it a particularly good channel. Sometimes I detoured into the woods on the high side, other areas, people had placed logs or stepping stones across channels. The canopy was thick, morning sun had not touched it yet, and I thrilled to be on a big hike in the Eastern Deciduous Forest again. Down to my left, a solitary waterfall about 15-20 feet high gushed and coursed. I heard it long before I saw it, and the sound faded as I passed it on the faint road downhill. There were no trails to it. It should have been someone’s destination hike with fenced view, but with so much untouched forest, it was allowed the look and feel as it had for eons.

At the bottom of the hill, I stopped to take a few photos of where Yellow Dog Run joins the Rock Run. I love that spot and have written about it before, and one of my winter screen savers is of that confluence. I turned right and headed upstream, accompanied by the sound of rushing water. By now, my pants were wet with dew and water that all those millions of leaves respire. The Nettle Weed was as high as my waste in some places, and I was glad to have chosen long pants. I hopped and hopped along the sodden trail. SQUISH! SQUISH! Suddenly, my right foot sank into leaves and mud deep enough that the water instantly soaked my foot. I lost my balance and my left foot went down as if in sympathy. I tried jumping quickly out, but in the instant of my launching, each foot went down another inch or so.

Off to the side of the trail, I laughed and said out loud, “Well, I got that out of the way.” Each foot landed with a sodden squishy sound and was noticeably heavier.

A little further on, I realized that I wasn’t seeing any orange blazes. I continued on the well-worn trail and realized that I was at a campsite near a cliff above the creek. Retracing my steps, I regained the path and started steeply up, reminding myself to be conscious of the blazes. Also, I allowed that I could deduct roughly 3 minutes from my total time for the wrong turn, if beating my previous best hung in the close balance, since I had not taken any wrong turns that time.

About 67 steps up the hill, I had to pause and pant. Starting a little slower, I let my heart catch up with myself, and suddenly I was moving lightly and quickly again. As I went higher I could see sunlight dappling the leaves on the far hill, but my side of the hill was deep in dawn, misty with humidity and morning fog.

Further along, the trail bent east and I was on a north slope. The deciduous trees gave way to a lovely, ancient stand of hemlock. It was very quiet and sacred. Further still I could see sunlight on my side and as I approached, the combination of mist and sunlight created perfect beams streaming through the forest like some kind of medieval painting. It was gorgeous.

Sunrise on OLP, Old Loggers Path

Sunrise in a Hemlock Grove along the OLP, Old Loggers Path

The trail flattened out toward the top, and I loafed along, chewing up miles and feeling great. It was still cool, and I estimated that I was getting about a mile every 17-18 minutes. If I could keep this up, I would complete the 27 mile loop in under 9 hours. In a little while, I popped out at the road crossing. I had been on the trail less than 2 hours, and I had the first of the 4 mountains. A guy in a truck was parked on a little spur road and had his pack and spinning rod on the hood. We talked a few moments before I moved on.

Down the road behind the gate, I took a preemptive swig of water and ate a granola bar. I’d put three 2-packs in, and I was really thinking about being ahead of the curve. The trail turned left off the old gravel road and I was instantly surrounded by the forest again. No sun. In no time, I picked up a rushing creek deep in a hollow to my left. I followed it until it went sharply away, then rocked-hopped over another. Sooner than I expected, I could see the Masten Road and the old CCC camp with the parking area beyond. I popped out and checked my watch. 3 hours in.

Sign along OLP, Old Loggers Path

A sign along the OLP, Old Loggers Path

Turning left on the road, I crossed the bridge and followed the blazes until I turned right behind a little cabin. For a short period, the trail ran along an old railroad grade and I marveled at the amount of dirt those hardasses moved to keep the train running level across the dips. How did they do it? How did they move enough rock that 150+ years later, the bed was still level and secure and not all slumped and eroded? An orange painted bent arrow signaled the trail leaving the RR to the right. I knew I was starting the second mountain. I decided to count paces and time them per thousand. That’s how the Romans developed the mile (mil), and I’ve often paced and counted on measured trails in Boulder County like Hall and Walker Ranches to calibrate my steps and see how close my 1000 paces comes to the next mile marker. The closest I’ve ever come is 989 paces, which means my 1000 are little more than an average mile. Checking my watch, 3, 4, 5…

The hill was steady but gradual. The trail followed an an old logging road and this was probably the easiest mountain of the four. At the end of 2000 paces, I was still climbing and my elapsed time was 36 minutes. Fuckin’ eh! Am I a 60 year old stud, or what? I felt great. By now the sun was high enough to mottle the forest floor. I passed through an alley of off-white and delicate pink Mountain Laurel, profuse with blossoms. I walked passed a bunch of them, not wanting to slow my pace long enough to sniff them. Does Mountain Laurel have a scent? Isn’t laurel a symbol of peace? Isn’t Lauren a derivative of Laurel? Isn’t that one of the reasons I’ve always loved that name, not to mention the flowers are beautiful and just the word puts me back in the mountains of north central PA on a day like today?  Okay. At the next profusion, I stopped and inhaled. The pink ones were almost imperceptibly scented. I tried several sections, some with the freshest blossoms and some with ones that were a day or two past prime. Those tumbled off their stem as my nose glanced them. The forest floor was littered with them. The next bush was a white one. The canopy was less dense here, and the sun lit the bush as if with a spotlight. My nose went from clump to clump like a giant bee. This bush had a distinct but delicate fragrance. Tinged with vanilla, it was slightly sweet and very light.mountain laurel bloomsI was glad I’d slowed down. Now I knew about Laurel. I picked up the pace and as the trailed started gently downward I checked my watch again. 4 hours in. I swigged water while I walked and opened the second 2 pack of granola bars.

It’s a long and winding trail down the second mountain and there is an extended gentle swale that leads toward Sharp Top. I was heading generally west at this point and morning was well on with the sun much higher. Huge maple, hickory, and cherry trees, many with girths greater than 30 inches, towered everywhere. The canopy was a deep green, the air stilled. It reminded me of one of the great cathedrals I’d recently toured in Madrid.

When the trail turned upward I checked my watch. Once again, it was within minutes of the even hour. 5 hours, 3 minutes since starting. I remembered Sharp Top being a formidable from this side. I’ve dayhiked it plenty of times, and there is a spur trail that runs to what used to be a forest tower. On a loop hike I wouldn’t bother, but with Benny Superdog, I’d done it plenty. Years ago, the dirt road to it wasn’t gated and one night after a few dances at the Eagles Nest, I had driven Scott back to it. The flights of stairs was rotting and sometimes missing treads, but we climbed it late at night. Scott didn’t want to, but he wouldn’t be left behind, and I kept reminding him to put his feet close to the shoring points rather than in the middle of the board, the better to hold his weight. At the top, about 60 feet up, I will never forget the view as long as I live. At about 2am, the moon was high. It had been a warm summer day, but the night had turned chilly. Fog had filled every valley and hollow. As we stood there gaping, we beheld a landscape of forested islands in a perfect sea of greyish ocean. Only the top 100-200 feet of mountains were visible. The air was still, the moon was high, and the stars that weren’t drowned out by it sparkled down on us. I wanted it to last forever. I guess it sort of did. The way down was cautious, and we were more careful by that point. The wood steps were slippery and rotting. With 45 feet to go, Scott slipped. He would have fallen and been impaled on the cross bracing if he’d not been holding on with both hands. He barked out an expletive, and I thanked him for being alert. On the ground, we were wordless, and jumped in the truck and headed out of there. I’m not even sure I could find my way there now.

Which is prelude. I was clipping along, counting my paces, when I came to the Sprout Point Vista Spur Trail. Briefly, I considered walking to it. That would really blow my time.

Gosh, why did I remember the back side of Sharp Top was a difficult? I was baking it!

Less than 200 paces later, the trail left the faded remnant of the ancient logging road and started straight up the fall line. The fall line got steeper. On that side of the mountain, gypsy moths had killed a lot of trees and the trail threaded around and through them. I climbed over, crawled under, picked my way through holding my pack in one hand so it wouldn’t snag the jagged broken branches… The trail was barely there, and with Nettle Weed able to thrive in sunlight, my arms and thighs were stinging and itching. I paused to huff. I went another 50 feet and paused to huff. WTF!!! I was losing time!!! I POWERED up the hill, but had to stop again for air. I scratched my itchy thighs and shins. My forearms were streaked with mild red lines and itched like crazy. Panting, I waited until I completely had my wind again, then started with more measured steps. At 800, the trail turned left and became level. Fuckin’ eh, I’m on top! Then the trail turned right and started steeply up again. Oh man…

I could tell by the hole in the canopy up ahead that I was getting close to the summit. About the same time, I popped onto the back side of the loop road. I came around the corner and there was the Sharp Top Vista. The center of the loop behind me was choked with blackberry and scrub. Hadn’t it been grassy when my daughters and I had camped there years ago? There was a single picnic table and above it, a sign said OVERNIGHT CAMPING PROHIBITED! Wow! I leaned against the end of the picnic table and looked out over the view, remembering how the three of us sat there that night, watching for shooters, drinking chai tea, and sitting in our folding camp chairs. It was a great memory. I had slept out on the ground next to the tent, partially because my snoring might have awakened them and partially because I wanted to sleep on the ground. For all the people who would not get a chance to camp in that spot with their kids, I felt sad for their loss.

THE TIME?!?! A little past 6 hours since starting. That meant I had probably covered about 18 miles even with my slower pace on the hill behind me. Time to get moving again. I had one pack of crumbly granola bars left so I opened it, ate one, and put the other one back in.

For a short stretch, the trail and road combine, then the trail veers off on the downhill side. It’s rough and poorly maintained, and it would have been perfectly easy to stay on the road, turn left at the junction a few hundred yards down, then turn right on the trail where it crosses. The last time Benny and I had done this was when I’d come looking for a 9 pound brown on the Little Loyalsock. My Dear Brother had joined me on that trip, he to trailrun this loop, and Benny and I had taken the walk up here to kill time in the morning. So many memories. What year was that?

I stumbled along that section of trail, wanting to be perfectly honest and not pick up extra minutes because I cheated on the road. A father and son approached me. They were doing the south side of the loop and spending one night on the trail together. We chatted briefly, wished each other well, and parted. Up ahead, I crossed the gravel road and started down the long hill, mountain #3 in the bag.

The combination of camping with the girls and remembering my Dear Brother’s epic run must have blended. I remembered the time he and I backpacked the loop. I had just bought my REI two person backpack tent and my brand new 800 fill Marmot bag. I was dying to try them out, and asked him if he’d like to join me on backpacking the loop. He had, and we drove up on a Friday night and parked at the same place that earlier today, I’d seen the fisherman.  Here’s what I remembered: Since it was late Friday afternoon when we’d set off, we camped down in the Masten area on the left side of the railroad grade I’d meditated on a few hours before. We had a lovely spot that night. I had chosen to park where we did because it would time out so that the second night, we would sleep at the confluence of the Yellow Dog and Rock Run, that confluence where I’d soaked my feet earlier in this hike. My Dear Brother, always trying to beat his best time, became obsessed with seeing how fast we could finish. When we got to the confluence, it was only 4pm on Saturday. We’d have to dick around for hours all afternoon. Why didn’t we just keep on going? Hell, we could bust this thing out and spend the night at the cabin and be having a beer at the Forksville Inn by 8pm if we just kept moving. Was I up for that? Why didn’t we do that? Did I really want to spend another night out on the ground? Wouldn’t it be fun to just get up this fucking hill and jump in the truck?

I realized that all these years later, I still felt the loss and pressure to get it done. We’d done it countless times, and I always embraced the decisions. It’s not like he made me do it. He just reminded me we could get this thing done faster if we just stayed focused and busted it out. In fact, it wasn’t until later that I really regretted not sleeping at the confluence like I’d planned. In fact, now that I thought about it, I remembered I’d gone back and made the correction. After my Dear Brother made the decision to leave our company and move to Colorado, I’d come up with the idea of fixing that missed opportunity. I suggested that we take a night before he left Maryland, and drive up and spend it sleeping at that beautiful spot. We parked this side of the Yellow Dog Road bridge where it crosses the Rock Run, and walked upstream to the spot where I wanted to sleep and set up for the night on our backpack trip. I even wrote a journal entry about it called “Camping at the Confluence”. It was fixing a wrong decision, but it was never quite the same. He did it with me, too, but he didn’t know what prompted me to be up there, nor why I invited him.

On the long downhill side of Sharp Top, I mused on my preoccupation with time and getting the most done. Wasn’t I doing now what he and I did on that long ago backpack trip? Could getting the most done work the other way, too? What if the real secret was not speeding time up, but slowing time down?

I looked at my watch.

Wait.

I stood ready to leap across a small freshet, gushing with water. It sparkled with sunlight.

I heard it…

The Bells? The Voices? The sound of a dewdrop on a cobweb in the furthest reach of the Universe? Poised to drip or evaporate, filled with starlight, and joining the same chorus either way? For just the second time in my life, I heard the Great I Am. The Big Om. It reached deep inside me, so that I vibrated at the same frequency. It was fucked up, it was amazing, it was totally unexpected, and it broke me and healed me in the same instant.

I hitched a sob.

I’d spent the first six plus hours of this hike conforming to my oldest habits.   I was busting it out. I was getting it done. I was doing this as fast as I could so I’d have time to jump in the car, eat some crackers while driving, and get on a stretch of private water by 5:30pm allowing for a 2 hour drive.

Tears ran down my cheeks. I folded my hands over my mouth to stifle myself but that made it worse. I was doing the same thing again and again and again. I wept. I looked up at the forest and called out “I’m sorry.” “I’m so, so sorry.” The words came out thin and broken. Would I ever learn? WTF??!?!

I was irritated with myself and embarrassed to stand there in front of all those trees and admit something publicly to them. I felt stupid and small and driven and preoccupied. They stood silent. No guilt, no recrimination. High above, a maple leaf cut loose in a whiff of air, and as I stood there peering into the water, it wafted across my face, brushed my nose, tumbled down my shirt, and landed partially on my left boot.

I started to laugh. I laughed and sobbed at the same time, and then I laughed and sobbed until my whole body shook. I could feel the fatigue in my lower back.  I was laughing so hard and the tears mingled with sweat, salty as the sea. I knelt down and filled my squeeze water purifier, drinking deeply. When my stomach sloshed, I rinsed my face and neck until I felt cool and refreshed.

Well, I was well more than halfway, but there was still time to learn. Wasn’t that an allegory for my life at this point?

I continued down the long hill, walking just a little more slowly. At the Pleasant Run, I found a downed tree that enabled me to carefully cross a pool without getting my feet and legs soaked. On the far side, I thanked the tree, then refilled my bottles. The water was cool. I looked for trout, thought I saw a shadow dart, then turned into the trail once again.

fallen logs make a stream crossing

Crossing a mountain stream on fallen logs

Further down, I found the parking area where I have traditionally started and ended the loop. I liked it still, and realized I probably should have parked there this time, too. If I had done so, Sharpie would still be ahead of me time wise, but it would 2 miles down a long slope and right up to the car. Oh well.

Crossing the road, I started up the fourth and final mountain. This time, I didn’t check my watch and didn’t count cadence. For a while, the trail and the feeder creek were the same. It was ripping, and was much more than a small riffle channeling rainwater or runoff. Erosion and spontaneous damming had merged the creek and the trail. I delighted in sloshing through it. The water felt cool and soothing on my feet, and if I could have walked barefoot, I would have. Further on, the hill got steeper and the creek tailed away on my left. I remembered there was a rock outcropping at the top of this mountain, on the brow, further up. I should be getting there soon. Wait… Old habits…

It occurred to me that I hadn’t seen much wildlife. That surprised me. Except for birdsong and a plenty of deer tracks along the trail, I hadn’t really seen anything.

A snake slithered across the trail. “Thank you, Snake! Hope you are well and thriving.” Further up, a puddle splashed and rippled. I reached it, and a perfect green frog sat there submerged to its nose. We paused and beheld each other. I moved to take another step, the frog surged forward to hide in the mud.

I wondered if I would see a grouse. Within 5 steps, a grouse burst out of the ferns almost right next to me. It scared the shit out of me, and I blurted out “WHOAF” and turned quickly to avoid being flapped on. She landed about 15 feet away, dragging one wing and cooing pitifully. I thought I had injured her until I heard the soft peeping behind me. 6 chicklets lurched out of the ferns on the right side of the trail, scurrying along the trail, and then disappearing into the ferns on the left. Mom, up ahead on the left, did circles, dragging the mock injury. If I had been a predator, I’d have surely fallen for it.

Sensing that I was getting into some kind of zone, I conjured consciously. What about a coyote? Years ago, my older daughter and I had slept near High Knob and a little band of coyotes came nearby and had a singing party that made our hair stand on end. So what about a coyote? How about a turkey? How about a couple of turkeys???

About five minutes later, another grouse burst out on my left. We must have scared each other because it exploded out of the ferns so vertically, it collided head-on with an angled treefall. The grouse ricocheted back to the ground, burst a second time, this time rising to the left of the fall and looking perfectly grouse-like as it set its wings to tack and land 40 feet on.

I turned to resume, halting as I saw a coyote leap from the trail about 100 yards ahead. My peripheral vision had caught it full side, stopping to look at me, though by the time I got my head fully turned and eyes focused, it was midway gone. Just that big, healthy flash of grey fur and tail. About 40-45 pounds, I’d say.

This final hill was interminable. Each time I thought I had topped out, the trail would level off then head up again steeply. The fact is, even if I’d not entered the zone, I’m not sure I would have beaten my old best time. Not that it mattered, but it still did. I could tell I was getting dehydrated. This mountain was a lot bigger than I’d remembered. I knew there were plenty of sluices that would surely carry good water, but this face was taking forever. I ate my last granola bar, but it turned to paste in my mouth and it was impossible to swallow even with squeezing the last few squirts of water into it. I hosed it off the roof of my mouth and got it down. I should keep an eye out for water or I’d cramp up big time.

Right behind and above my left knee, I got a charley horse. SHIT! All this manifesting can work both ways. I reached back to massage my leg and my left hand cramped tight. I had to put my left thumb in the palm of my right hand and stretch it out.   As I did so, my left leg cramped up again.

This is stupid, I thought. I need a reset. I’d recently been reading Martha Beck.  What would she say?

Just ahead of me, a carpet of moss blanketed some smooth level rock. The soil on which it grew was maybe an inch thick, and the in-between in between the tiny moss fronds was studded with tiny white flowers. I pulled out my phone, programmed the alarm for 20 minutes, and laid back, using my pack and empty water bottle for a pillow. I was gone in seconds.

a bed of green moss along a mountain trail

A bed of moss beckons in the forest

Gradually, I awoke, conscious of the way the cool on my back had sucked the heat out of me. I felt wonderful and alive. I’m not sure what woke me, but somewhere up above, one of the big-bomber Pileated Wood Peckers was making the rounds. There was no mistaking that big tom-roll. No snare, cymbal, or rimshot, he. I picked up my phone, which had been lying on my chest. 19 minutes had elapsed.

I turned off the alarm before it sounded, rolled onto my knees, and stood up. I had gotten a little bit stiff, and everything was seriously tender. Oh well.

I began to think that the trail had re-routed from the rock outcropping I remembered. It couldn’t be this far and I should have crossed one of the little creeks by now. I was thirsty, but otherwise felt great. Once my legs warmed back up again, I was striding along nicely. It was obvious that I was not in the same shape I was the last time I’d looped it, but I was no longer used to the eastern humidity either (plus maybe another 10-15 years on the odometer???)

Sunlight breached the woods up ahead, and I popped out on the rocks. They looked smaller than I remembered, but they had to be right. Looking north, there was a windfarm along one of the ridges. It marred the view, and I hoped the towers would be obscured from the final nice view along this section.

Ducking back into the woods, I started gradually downward. I flushed another grouse and I heard the peeping chicks again, though this time I never saw them. I walked through fern beds, dense, cool, and fragrant. Sometimes a second kind of fern, denser, taller, and darkly green, much larger and waxy, grew up chest high in a circle of fronds, while underneath, the fiddleheads, fully open, stood sentient, knee high and a lighter shade. It was awesome. I thanked every one of them. That stretch had standing water in stagnant puddles, and a few mosquitos and no-see-ums hovered around my head. I was thirsty, but declined to unleash my squeeze purifier. I knew there was good water ahead.

The sunny, broken-forest logging road gave way. Painted on a tree up ahead was a left pointing orange arrow. I took the hard turn and almost immediately was in a mature forest of maple and cherry. The canopy was so dense that there was barely any underbrush. My eye caught movement up ahead, and sure enough, a flock of turkeys was running ahead of me. They bobbed and crisscrossed each other, braiding their way up the hill to the right.

I heard the water before I saw it.

I dropped steeply down, then arced around the little hollow near a perfect campsite.   I stopped and dipped, squeezing cool water down my throat and neck. I drank a whole bottle, then filled it full. That would get me to the car.

The trail gradually leveled out and ran along the flank of the mountain. To my right was the ridge. To my left was the slope. I could hear the Rock Run far below. The sun was now distinctly lower behind me, and bars of light angled down through the trees, casting my shadow in front of me. Most of the morning, I’d walked into the light, and had that glittering morning light in front and on me. Now, the woods was deeply green and fragrant. The leaves and occasional fern beds were dry, and my feet though damp, did not squish or squirt when they landed.

A deep green summer forest

A deep forest in summer

Another flock of turkeys pushed up ahead. The warblers picked up where they’d left off in the morning.

Suddenly I had a pang of poignancy. When would I do this next? Would I get it on my 70th? When I got back to Colorado, would I remember what I learned back there on the downhill side of Sharp Top? When I got home and business preoccupied me and I would be trying to fit in a hike and mow and work on the tomatoes all in one evening, would I remember how to apply my “slower is faster” lesson?

I didn’t want the hike to end.

I started thinking about what I would do when I got to the car. Would there be time to get on the Club Water? It was after 5 and I was approaching my 11th hour of hiking. I felt good, but a 2 hour drive to the water would make me pretty stiff, and then I’d only have a hour or so of daylight left. I really wanted an evening on eastern water, but rushing it seemed ill advised and out of character for the way the day had evolved.

Up ahead I spotted the yellow arrow to the left that signaled my last great view. I turned onto it reverently. This spot has been important to me on many levels and for many years. When one of our daughters was having a dark period, I made her hot chocolate here many years ago. When my Dear Brother and I had camped at the confluence, before we turned to head home, I had parked my truck where the rental was now, and he and I had walked back here. The last photo of him while our lives were still parallel was taken on this spot. I remembered standing here with one of my best friends. Up here on one of my many birthday trips, I brought him and both pairs of new snowshoes, and we’d hiked a long way back where I’d just come from. He got really tired and we were extremely cold and deep into the woods that day. I remember worrying that I might have pushed him too far, but in the end he was a good sport and we laughed and rehashed it over beers in Dushore later that evening.

I stood there and was filled with love and gratitude for my life. I loved Francine and our daughters and the family we had all contributed to and created. I loved my Dear Brother for walking away from our business while he still had time, and blessed the opportunity it gave me to buy him out and run the business for a few more years. That experience was so pivotal to who I am now and what I do and how I do it.

The windfarm towers were obscured. The ridge on the other side of the Rock Run canyon blocked them from view. Thank you, Rock Run Valley.

I knew that the hike was basically over. I could feel the presence of the car half a mile away, and I no longer felt invisible or lost to the world.

Nothing to do but complete the circle.

            Isn’t that what we all do eventually?  Complete the circle.

One last time, I thanked All That Is. I felt profound reverence, pride in having completed the loop, and total joy in the sunny forest and Delight it still held for me.

I almost stopped at the last ammo box to sign in. This one had always been here as long as I remembered, but now there were more at different entry points. I think I counted 4-5 others along today’s trek. For a second I stood in front of it, remembering what I’d written a very long time ago. Then I turned and continued without disturbing it.

At the car, I opened the trunk and doors. I pulled out crackers and Healthy Choice peanut butter and fancy cherry preserves with a French name and cane sugar as the second ingredient. Then, the RITZ!! Oh yum. I leaned, slumped, sat, on the back bumper in ecstasy. I chewed slowly and sipped/squeezed what remained of my water.

I decided that the fishing would have to wait. I’d get at least one more decent night while I was here, and by the way the day was holding, tomorrow, Tuesday, would be beautiful and clear as well. That would also give the creeks 2 full days to clear up and level down after all the rain.

The food was exquisite and when I was finished, I peeled off my sodden boots and socks. They stunk like mare-sweat and goop. I should have put them in the trunk, but I put them on the floor of the passenger seat next to me. The windows would be open on the way back.

I drove to the cabin quietly. Reflecting on the day, I didn’t know how I could have improved it. Even my early rush only served to intensify the second half. I already wanted to do it again. Maybe the next time at the cabin, I’d do a longer chunk of the LT instead. I’d have time to think about that before whenever the next trip was planned.

At the cabin, I switched my phone off airplane mode and downloaded texts. The work problem that we’d texted furiously about last night was in the rearview. Our older daughter had announced via text that she was getting rid of her car. Wow! Her transportation since college days, she’d bought it used and taken good care if it. She’d been talking about going carless for a while now. Good for her. Everything changes.

I dialed my Dear Ones, and texted a summary of what is now these 10 pages. To a certain extent, the text may have captured it just as completely and a lot more succinctly. As always, the journal entry is for me. Here is what I wrote to them:

Hearye, hearye! The

Loggers Path was

everything I remembered

it to be and worth trying

to get, three cabin trips

in a row. Hiked the first

15 miles or so at a 20

minute clip. Saw

snakes, coyote, turkeys,

grouse, pileated

woodpecker, warblers…

Decided to ramble the

next twelve miles at a 30

minute pace. Took a 20

minute nap on a bed of

moss, and stopped

several times just to

listen. 11.5 hours later, I

made a picnic dinner on

the trunk of my rental

instead of jamming food

down while careening to

the Club Water. Ritz

crackers, cherry

preserves with cane

sugar, and creamy

peanut butter with

filtered water.

Upshot, a very wonderful

day. Will swim tomorrow

and spend the evening

at Barry at Cathy’s if

weather permits. If anyone

is nearby and wants to

head on over, feel free to

come anytime. I love you

all!

I’m safe and very

sound 🙂

Me

Thank you, Universe.

            Hello Summer of 2015. Welcome!

             Happy 60th Birthday and Father’s Day to me, 2015.

            Thank you Old Loggers Path.

            I’ll be seeing you.

            YondeR

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Barry and Cathy Beck

 

 

 

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