It started with blue sky and sunshine. 50 degrees. Early spring leafless trees allowing views through the forest. Echoes across the sky from sandhill cranes and Canada geese. Twirty birds – robins, chickadees, red-wing blackbirds. A single cricket. Snow-free, leaf-crunchy trails. Mud. It ended with a breeze and overcast sky. Sprinkles of cool rain falling from the sky.
Monday was my day off, and Adam had some shows he wanted to watch, so I took off to the woods. I head towards my go-to for last-minute hiking because it’s so familiar and I love it – the northern unit of Kettle Moraine along the Ice Age Trail. I know the trailheads, distances between them, and a few side trails. I can just head there and plan my hike on the way.
I started at Butler Lake and hiked north. When I got to the Parnell Trail, I veered off and climbed the lookout tower. It was still a very clear day at that point, so I was able to see Lake Michigan from up there! What a treat!
I continued along the Parnell loop back towards the Ice Age Trail, and that’s where I slipped in the mud-covered leaves, going downhill. I figured I’d fall a few times with how muddy and slippery the trail was, but this was the only time. I landed softly on my elbow and right butt cheek. It was one of those feet-go-up, butt-goes-down kind of falls, and it made me laugh. I love spring. It’s my favorite season, and the mud is one of my favorite parts about it. My ultimate favorite is the limey-green leaf buds and new flowers that start popping out – the ones that haven’t quite opened their eyes to the season yet. I was a little early for that, but I was able to get really acquainted with the mud. By way of my butt. It was okay to get dirty. That’s one of the bazillion reasons I hike.
Lunch was on a log around a cold fire ring. Tortilla with pepperoni, sausage, and cheese. And apple and seltzer water. Starburst. Chocolate. I continued on the trail northward for a couple more miles after lunch, then turned around and head back towards the car.
On the way back the sky darkened. I wasn’t expecting rain, so I turned airplane mode off on my phone and checked the weather. Hmmm. 40’s and rain coming. My rain jacket? In the car. Whoops. I didn’t look far enough ahead on the weather when I checked it earlier, so I missed the whole rainy part of the forecast.
About three miles from the car it started to sprinkle. I’d already hiked about 12 miles, but I was feeling great. So I started to jog. I had my synthetic jacket in my pack, so I would’ve been able to stay warm (just not dry), but if I could avoid getting wet, then why not try? Especially if I still had a little energy? I jogged most of the last three miles, and the few sprinkles that came down during that time were welcomed.
I got to the car, unloaded my pack, sat down, shut the door, and it started to pour rain. Yes! Perfect. A perfect day in the woods. My whole self felt rejuvinated as I just sat for a few minutes, felt my breaths, and watched the rain trickle down the windshield.
My muscles felt fatigued, my feet were a little sore, my shoulders ached from carrying an ill-fitting day pack, but it was all perfect. Because my mind was clear, my eyes were bright, and I had a smile on my face.
Yep, hiking is a pretty serious addiction, and I don’t get nearly enough of it. Ever. But when I do, it’s pretty awesome. I don’t think I’ll be trying to quit any time soon, either. More. I need more.
Tonight I love mud. The squishy sound of my footsteps on a muddy trail gives me goosebumps because I love it so much.
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!