A Relaxing Walk in Virginia
Credit: vastateparksstaff, CC by 2.0, FlickrIt was a cool walk through the Virginia mountain range. The foliage made you wonder how a generation earlier survived black and white television. The leaves traced every step with a rustling noise of crinkled paper. And yet, we stumbled along the path towards the hilltop amid an army of chipmunks chattering in the background. As we strolled along the path, our boots ground the gravel below our thumps, and announced our trespassing to the woods inhabitances. Their chatter acknowledged our presence.
A stone bridge provided dry passage across a stream. Closer inspection of the bridge from streams bank showed a metal culvert lining, one not graced by archway bridges of the past. The metal ribbed tunnel made for cheating by modern day bridge builders who learned the trade through manuals and not through sweat. There was no cheating the beauty around us. We had walked through a Norman Rockwell painting, omitting the comical stare of a local town cop captured through rigid brush strokes of intent. The bridges veneer stones decorated the upstream view with a mosaic blend of gray, cream, and mauve stones. The arch provided an echo of its image on the water’s surface as a sparkle of sunlight danced on the other end of the tunnel.
A neon green bounced off the water as it tumbled past chilled boulders. Blue shimmers of sky’s reflection chased the driven white bubbles past the hickory deadwood. Not to be contained, yellow encircled a steady orange glow silently capturing leaves as they bounced off one another on their descent downstream. The waters depth was unknown as color protected the surface view from intrusion. A leaf hits the water and its landing echoes in the solitude of the moment.
In the distance a howl of a captured creature, no doubt a family’s pet, echoed of enjoyment being free from captivity for a day. A child’s bark of impatience as he chased his four legged friend, unable to achieve its pace wanting to share the moment. A parent toting a sack passed treats to the scampering two. An orange neckerchief fluttered in the wind along with the dog’s ears as it rushed towards its next venture. The amazing take off speed reminded me to stand clear of the runway from the ground pounding acceleration and toe nail scraping dirt flying.
Generating a ruckus amongst the leaves, the air carried a scent of mint and mud. Both an earthly pleasure provided a chilled beverage of relaxation to the lungs. No mechanized gadgets shadowed the senses. Communication was through the wind, not through a satellite. The gusts were plentiful and a pleasant reminder we weren’t alone on earth. All is calm in the woods, but every event provides a racket and grabs your attention.
A black bird glided above as though to supervise our visit. Its wings held steady as it tilted side to side, listing upon the gentle breeze. Another joined the surveillance and then initiated a debate to which should lead the watch. Both maintained vigil between the canopy and the sun. Neither seemed concern of gust swirling full of leaves in the wake of a wind burst.
I had a pair of Timberland boots that were comfortable. More important as we hiked along the stream was that they were waterproof which were far better than hiking in soggy sneakers. Timberland is great for hiking and the White Ledge style that I had been wearing provided ankle support along the trail and somehow kept my feet from sweating with their Gore-Tex liner. A comfortable ride made for less knee pain upon arriving home that evening. The boots weigh less than the gorp and water we were lugging.
I worn Wigwam hiking socks as cheap, cotton ones tend to hold the moisture and make my feet cold. The Wigwam ones are a wicker design and provide a blister free hike. You can also wear them around the house without wearing out the sock heals. Another consideration is they don’t slide down into your boot during your hike. Have you ever had smelly socks upon arriving home? These don’t tend to smell as bad after a trip as they are wicker vented and allow the moisture to evaporate. Additionally, they don’t itch or chafe like wool socks.
I am a big fan of Columbia jackets. They are light weight and comfortable. Additionally, they are wind resistant and watertight in case it rains on a hiking trip. You can wear them for all seasons – Spring, Fall, or even a chilly Winter morning if the sun is out as they cut down on wind. If you decide to shed the jacket as the sun rises during mid-day, the jacket will fold tightly into your backpack without adding a top heavy feel to your knapsack. Also, if you decide to sit on a mossy area, the jacket makes for a great cover to keep your bum dry. Also, the jacket can become a full length umbrella for your child you are caught in a cool rain patch and they and becoming chilled.
I tote a North Face backpack. They are light and extremely durable. The North Face brand provides plenty of storage and does not cut into your shoulders on long hikes. Most important is your contents remain dry even during a down pour, so you don’t need to worry about your food or camera getting soggy during a late morning shower. The shoulder straps are made to carry the contents weight, not weigh you down and annoy you the entire day. If you hike with children, you can share lugging the backpack with them as the straps adjust easily and the shoulder straps are comfortable. The kids get a kick of taking their turn hauling the load. They also seem quick to drink the liquid contents to lighten the load. Not far up the trail they are quick to offer the backpack to whomever is next in line.