Hiking, I think, might be the greatest discovery of middle age for me. Sure, I went on hikes in my younger days, but it wasn’t until we had children that hiking became something we consciously sought to do and then, gradually, it became just something we unconsciously stumbled into doing. It was an answer instead of a question. We want to go on a hike, yes, yes we do.
Today, in the Delaware Gap National Recreation Area, I had a chance to hike before the snow. The ground was crunchy with ice needles—as water beneath the ground froze and pushed up forwarding these magical crystals. The woods seemed ready for the snow, resigned to it all, maybe, as we discussed all our preparations and logistics for digging out and driving home the next day.
That’s the difference between nature and people—nature stays and people go. We are on the move and the natural world, while hardly stagnant, follows rules of movement of its own and its in own time.
Then, we hiked through the falling snow, watching the landscape transformed from frozen to white. There are fallen trees everywhere around the trails. Our guide said when the trees fall, the only intervention is to cut away the bit blocking the path. Otherwise, the fallen trees simply stay providing habitats and hiding spots to animals, piling up and slowly returning to the soil from which they first emerged.
And then we hiked, well, really took a short walk, through all the inches of powder that had piled up. It was dark, but the white of the snow glowed. It was magical. Our footprints disturbed the blanket of white; but quickly, the snow filled in all our steps and snow angels, the earth resigning itself to another storm.