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A HIKE WORTH ITS PRICE
May 17, 2004
 
The hike around the lake is three miles, it says in the flyer. It takes two hours. Lots of roots and rocks. Lots of uphill. Time was, I wouldn't have thought twice about such a jaunt. But I think more than twice these days, with my oddly splinted knee. What if I get halfway around the lake and can't continue?

Well, we'll just have to cross that bridge when we get to it. Because I want to go. I will pay for it tomorrow, perhaps, but sometimes such things are worth what you pay.

We set off, and the trail gets interesting right away. Lovely, a carpet of pine needles, a canopy of trees dappling the trail with spots of sun. So we do not roast in the heat, but walk along in the cool. And indeed, there are roots and rocks, as advertised: place your feet carefully, make a decision about how to take each step: this series of decisions is probably the main fun of hiking. Each step in a walk is the same, and the joy of it is your consistency, the smooth rhythmic music of your walking. But hiking is irregular, starts and stops, places a foot and then thinks better of it and picks it up again, to place it somewhere else. You use your mind more on a hike than you do on a walk.

A little nuthatch hops along with us for twenty feet or so, unafraid. Tiny flowers line the path and nod their greetings as we pass. The calls of unseen birds sound high overhead, and the blue and red blazes of the trail beckon us forward. We touch the trees as we pass them.

It is a long workout for my leg. I walk stiffly, setting the injured one down carefully. I am the last one up each hill. A comrade finds a stout walking stick, just the right height, a joy to hold in my hand, and the stick takes some of the strain off my knee.

Halfway around we reach a lookout point, a pile of rocks on a ledge overlooking the whole lake. You own such a vista when you've worked for it, and the remainder of the trip goes by quickly. We are walking back up the road to the lodge before we know it. It didn't really take two hours, even for me. More like an hour and a half. I am absurdly proud of our speed. There is time for a quick shower before our next session.

The next day, my body is sore but my spirit is happy. I park my walking stick by the back door, and decide to leave it there for the next hiker.

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I was at Incarnation Center in Ivoryton,Connecticut. Take a look!
http://www.incarnationcenter.org/
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