Bring it on

"Think what a great world revolution will take place when there are millions of guys all over the world with rucksacks on their backs tramping around the back country…."- Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Part 2: Rainclouds are like Sponges

>> Monday, June 8, 2009

As I crested the mountain, I saw to my left a bright area that appeared to be a nice cliff's edge lookout. I decided to bushwack to the light and take in the beautiful scene. With the orange trail marker to my back, I tromped along in the brush while looking out for the evil bunches of poison ivy. Occasionally, I looked back to make sure I could see the blaze (or at least the general direction of the blaze). Once I got to the forest's edge and the orange blaze was completely out of sight, it was an amazing view of the dark green mountainside. Immediately in front of me, a huge tall-grass field and on my right was a trimmed grass pathway (wide enough to drive a car on). Next to me was a 12 X 30 half-covered stack of tree trunks and chopped wood.

I wondered who could be so lucky as to own this land in a state park. Were people allowed to own a piece of state park land at Francis Slocum or had I stumbled upon private lands with no obnoxious signs nailed into trees telling me to "Beware" of "Private Property." Instead, this solitary moment that this quiet space was my view. Only the birds and other animals making chirps and crackles and scratches imbibed its magic with me. I breathed it in for a few more minutes and then decided to head back through the bushes to the orange trail.

As I swooshed and snapped through the woods, I kept my eyes on the direction of where I had rememebered the blazed tree was standing and I must say that "eyeballing" your way through the woods is not such a smart idea unless you have: (1) traversed it to the point of mental image recall, (2) brought a compass with you or have some orienteering skills, (3) enough time to mess around bushwacking backwoods areas.

I found myself turned around a bit, but luckily I had the open patch of brightly lit forestline guiding me by keeping it at my back. Instead of walking at an angle away from the area, I walked directly away from it. Coming into a much more wooded and rocky area, I stood still and took a look at my surroundings. Nothing seemed familiar.
After being turned around for fifteen minutes, I finally discovered an orange blaze, and turning right to go back where I came from, I hopped back on the Larch Tree Trail.

In retrospect, I'm not saying that I was definitely lost, but now I realize that it is probably easier to get lost than I thought initially. And the feeling in your gut when you begin to panic at the idea of being lost near sundown...There is a general sense of fear and encroaching aloneness creeps up inside you. It permeates and pulses in every muscle and vein in your body. It can force you to panic and make rash decisions (like to keep moving in the wrong direction, or moving anywhere without getting yourself together first). Now, just because I got turned around, I am not suggesting never bushwack and explore, but just as a general rule now that I have decided I will follow is: If the panic of getting lost seems to begin, pause. Take a deep breath. Look at your surroundings. Force logic back into your fight or flight filled mind. Then take a rational step toward the right direction.

Now that I was back on the trail again, I noticed something on the way back down...stormclouds.

As though someone had taken a huge white sponge and dipped it in dirty water, the sun disappeared as I rounded the top of the mountain on Larch Tree Trail. The once barely visible clouds against the blue sky seemed to have suddenly expanded to massive black storm clouds in a matter of moments. Luckily, I was on my way back and for some reason a hike down (or back) always seems faster to me; however, I was definitely out of my element since I had decided to leave my rainjacket in the car because of the beautiful weather earlier. Maybe I was just striking out today (even though the hike was enjoyable).

I needed to feel a bit more of the trail in my muscles and bones since this trail wasn't too difficult to climb anyway, so I ran all the way through the pine forest and back to the trails beginning at a yellow metal gate. Then I caught my breath and quickly trekked down the road and past a second yellow metal gate that lead up to some private residences. I took the Lakeshore red trail to the left and high-tailed it back to my car just in time for the entire sky to turn a deep black and purple and rain began to topple out of the sky onto the remainder of the lakeside fishing park-goers.

Overall, I must say that what I'd seen of the Larch Tree Trail was absolutely gorgeous! I think it was a great trail even though the difficulty wasn't too bad, it definitely gets a thumbs up for being the nicest and most isolated of all the trails in Francis Slocum.

out of 5 Hikers.


Double-Trouble July 8, 2009 at 1:55 PM  

This is great, thanks for sharing. As I've been searching for hiking trails a friend told me the Sierra Club is creating a user generated hiking website. I think its still in the beta stage, but you should check it out

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