I always choose the quietest path. I follow behind Luka, single file, it is just our way. Besides, she always knows where the trail is, always, without a map, without ever having been there, she knows. I cannot be lost when I am with her, which is good, because I am not always paying attention.
I walk on these trails to lose my self in other ways. I sort through my thoughts, littering the path behind me, knowing that the wind and wilds will carry them off. I walk to forget..and to remember..to find community. Sometimes I will have talks with God and feel His presence in everything around me; other times I will ask if God is even possible. I don’t dare ask for a sign, I have never believed it was in anyone’s interest to ask God for a sign.
Sometimes, I think Luka must be God; she is the smartest, kindest, most loyal, and honest being I know.
When we walk, I am reminded how small I am and how much a part of all this I am. Sometimes in corners of my home, it is easy to feel alone and apart from the world. Inside my walls, I am a collection of the things I own and surround myself with. In the woods behind my walls, I am vulnerable and open, wholly who I am in that moment. I have nothing, I am nothing..but my presence.
I had no expectations really. Perhaps I should have.
Little did I know what I was getting into. The trail was ridiculously steep and straight down. Luka had no trouble, but I had to take it slow, grabbing onto roots, scooting on my bottom. I knew that going down also meant having to go back up, but I took the challenge. I hiked all this way to see the falls. I hate to say it, but I was a bit underwhelmed. There were a lot of downed trees, in the falls and in the creek. It was kind of a mess…I know I shouldn’t expect a perfect photo op every time I head to the falls, but maybe I do expect it a little.
The trail back up was marked with a simple “path” sign at the bottom, and if I didn’t have a seasoned trail finding dog I would have likely turned around and gone back the way I came. But Luka seemed to make and I figured if I ended up somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be, I could turn around or bush whack. I literally scrambled and climbed my way up the side of this hill. I talked myself into a calm by repeating “don’t look down” over and over. And when I did make it to the top, I crawled on my hands and knees hoping not to see anyone as I would too scared to stand up straight.
I did stand up and was pleased with the scenery on top. A lovely stream wandering through the forest, a barely marked trail following alongside it. Again, thank God for Luka who always knows where the trail is.
According to my map and phone, I seemed to have missed my turn off to head back toward Randolph Hill Road. I doubled back and looked over and again for the trail and decided it must have been obliterated by a fallen tree or two. I would have to take Ice Gulch Trail I decided.
The air got colder and colder, it felt good as was hot and tired. We ended up finding the trail back to Randolph Hill, there was a newer looking sign leading the way. This was great as a later read that Ice Gulch Trail isn’t suitable for dogs.
Luka, my intrepid partner, never seemed to tire. I was grateful for the many spots for her to drink. I really appreciate an accommodating trail, one that provided all the drinks necessary for my pooch.
I’s like to do Ice Gulch again, with someone. I’m not likely to go back to the falls…it took a lot out of me. I was exhausted when I returned to the car and am still wiped out today.