Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hiking is good for me. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Keeping with WAG, I’m up to a mile.  It may not seem like much, but it’s all I got.  I couldn’t do it if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve always enjoyed being on the move, despite the fact that I seem to smash into things on a regular basis.  I love brisk walks through the neighborhood as much as rigorous hikes through the woods. 

That’s what I did this past week.  My husband and I camped at Mohican State Park in Ohio next to the rushing water of the Clear Fork River.  A tad unfortunately for us, the online map showed the river but not the highway on the other side.  But it was beautiful anyway, and traffic died down by 10.  The weather was perfect, although we had to change our plans to go canoeing; the canoe liveries weren’t operating due to recent heavy rains.  And because of budget cuts, the lovely pool wasn’t yet opened during the week nor was the bathhouse nearest us.  But never mind . . . we like to walk.

So we traveled one of the trails the first day, and nothing untoward happened.  It was a pleasant two-hour hike with the sighting of a small snake, a few chipmunks, a squirrel or two, waterfalls, and a packed picnic our reward.  I slept well that night, thanks to the exercise, the night air, and my new best friend Tylenol PM.
The next day’s three-hour hike struck me as being beautiful but oddly surreal. When driving to our starting point, we encountered the unusual sight of women wearing long skirts riding bicycles.  Their clothing and bonnets identified them as Amish.  After we parked and approached the path on foot, we ran into another small party of Amish.  Two of the men stared unabashedly, giving us the most intense skunk eye I've ever had the misfortune of receiving.  When my husband said, “Good morning,” though, they responded in kind.  They may have been skittish, waiting to see if we meant any harm, or simply didn’t approve of my shorts and the baseball cap that soon got me in trouble.

As we traveled along the banks of the beautiful river, there were a few muddy spots so I tried to tread extra carefully.  With the cap to keep the sun off and my eyes glued to the ground, I didn’t see the tree branch until too late.  A resounding WOMP filled the air as my head struck it.  My husband quickly turned back to see if I were laid out on the ground.  Fortunately, I wasn’t.

We continued on without mishap and found ourselves at the campgrounds.  We hadn’t realized when we drove to the trailhead that our own origination point was within walking distance of our campsite.  Fortunately, while the budget cuts apparently erased a need for rangers and check-in personnel, it didn’t affect the camp store.  So after a brief respite of cookies and milk, we returned to the trail.  Being cognizant of the location of the offending tree, I passed it by with a sigh of relief and once again glued my eyes to the ground.  BAM!  I walked smack into a different branch!  The resulting tears were more from indignity than hurt, although there was plenty of that to go around as well.
When returning to the car, it all felt surreal again (or still).  I had just experienced something that most hikers don’t—a twofer head-bopper.  Try following that with a vision of 30 buggies with four times that many Amish fishing and playing hoop games.  I would have wondered at my level of consciousness had I not seen a few earlier.  To cap off the surrealistic scene, one horse nosed through the open dumpster while the others grazed quietly in the nearby woods. 

I bet they never hit their heads.  

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