I feel like I don’t go on walks or hikes, I go on adventures. And today, I decided to go for a thankful hike on my mountain. Okay, it’s not technically my mountain. But it feels like it is. It is a part of me. I am a part of it. I have been adventuring on this mountain for many years.
As I set out on my thankful walk, I took Koda with me. I originally headed there for an exercise hike up Pine Hill Trail. A short, intense hike. But then it occurred to me that I might find a lot of people on that trail and, truthfully, I love people but I also love walking by myself and contemplating. So I decided, it being Thanksgiving, to go and enjoy some of my favorite trails.
I love Echo Lake trail. I love the way it winds through the woods, up a bit at first, then flat for awhile, then down again, meeting with Echo Lake Road, which widens out and brings you to Echo Lake. Echo Lake Trail is the trail on which Dot and I had to run past a tree that was launching pine cones at us. It’s also the trail where two trees rub against each other when the wind is just right and make a sound like a baby bear.
As Koda and I went past Echo Lake this morning, a little boy was walking with his grandfather from the other end of Echo Lake Road yelling “HELLO,” “HELLO!” I started to answer him back and then realized what he was doing. He was listening for the echo! It really does echo at Echo Lake, which I heard the day I lost Columbus and was calling for him. So heartwarming seeing a granddad taking his little grandson for a walk in the woods to see this special pond while other family members were most likely getting the Thanksgiving dinner ready. I heard him ask his grandson, “so, you like Echo Lake?” and then he told him “let’s head down this way” as he led him towards the best echo spot.
My first smile. Thank you God for little kids who are amazed by simple things and thank you for keeping me amazed by simple things, too. And thank you for lakes that echo and grandparents that take their grandchildren on adventures.
Koda and I headed to my next favorite spot as we got on to High Meadow Trail to take us to – you guessed it – High Meadow. It also takes you past a really old tree that used to be standing as a sentinel on the edge of the path. Every time I walked by that tree I would think of all the people who did the same in all the years it had stood there. Native Americans probably walked past that tree. Then one day it fell. The death of a tree. It was so big that the forestry people cut through it’s trunk to allow passage. And so it’s still a guardian of that trail, though no longer standing tall.
Beyond that tree, up a small incline, is High Meadow. High Meadow was becoming not much of a meadow and losing it’s view until last year. One day I walked into it and all the young trees and brush had been cut back to make it a meadow again. And there was a sweet little bench placed at the top of it so you can sit and drink in the view. As two young women were doing.
My second smile. Thank you God for women friendships.
Now the hard part comes as you finish up on High Meadow Trail and head onto Jack Frost Trail. We made slow but steady uphill progress, like molasses pouring from a bottle. This was the only spot I stopped to catch my breath, leaning back on a young tree. Then we continued on to my next favorite spot. A pine forest. That’s the entrance to it, in this picture I included. I headed inside and found the rock I like to sit on and just thought for a spell. I thought about how peaceful it is in here, so very, very still and quiet, unlike what’s going on in the world. It’s a great place to escape, and soon the two young women from the bench walked past me. One of them asked if I had ever been in here when there was snow on the ground. “I don’t think I have,” I told her, “but now I will this year. Thank you for telling me about it.”
My third smile. Thank you God for all these people who share my mountain, and for the fact that it is their mountain, too. We are kindred spirits.
It was then that I decided I wanted to go to the top of the mountain this day, my last favorite spot. Up the rest of Jack Frost to Mountain House Trail. I must say that along the way – the whole hike, really – because of all the leaves on the ground that hid the trail at times, I often would start veering the wrong way and notice it as Koda kept to the path. Maybe she could smell all the footsteps that trod before ours. Or maybe she just remembered it from other times. In any case, I was appreciative.
My fourth smile. Thank you, God, for my very smart and able dog. A companion on my hikes. With her I feel safe venturing out on my own.
Koda was breathing heavy. All this way uphill and not a stream to be found to give her some water. But soon, at the top, we could visit the goldfish pond where she could cool herself down on the edge and lap water to her heart’s content. As we neared it, there were quite a few lose dogs gallivanting around and sloshing through the water. Oh no, I thought, I hope Koda doesn’t freak.
It seems that the pack dog thing might be good for Koda. She was really relaxed with all these dogs. I recognized a couple of them, and sure enough, heard their owners’ voices from the new lookout tower they’ve built on the top of the mountain. There was a real crowd up there! I heard someone say “let’s get a picture.” It was all people I knew from Princeton. I decided to go up to say hi.
My fifth smile. Thank you, God, for this town and the people in it, who get together to hike our mountain on Thanksgiving day. Who love the mountain as I do. Who adventure on it with their dogs and with each other. Who are laughing and enjoying each others company.
Hugs and greetings all around. Lottie, Columbus’ sister who is still in town was there, too.
I decided to head down Harrington Farm Trail, just to go back a different way. I realized just now as I wrote this that I never looked to drink in the view of the Boston skyline while I was at the top!
Harrington Farm Trail is not a trail I am on very often. And it’s pretty steep. A couple of times I had to sit down on a rock and stretch my legs down to the one below it because the jump was just a little too intimidating. Koda jumped well, though.
Thank you, God, for a body that can do this kind of stuff, even through the harder spots. I pray that you’ll always let me be able to hike my mountain, for as long as I live.
It was a quiet hike back and we eventually came to Administration Road, which is a nice easy walk back the car. And we hit a few streams for Koda to drink from and lay in to cool herself. I did a lot more thinking and thanking and talking to God the rest of the way.
Then home and getting ready to head out to our family get-together, which was wonderful, too.
Thank you, God, for family and every blessing you bestow upon us. Amen!