So fellow travelers, on a recent camping trip, I spent some time hiking one of my favorite trails near Lake Ontario.
Delilah and our camping buddy Sammy hiking the trail a few years ago.
This trail is unique because it starts with a handicap accessible loop, a short gravel path through shrubs and new growth forest. The loop has benches scattered about which provide perfect spots to catch glimpses of the many different birds that spent their summers by the lake.
Midway along the loop, a longer trail branches off. This trail winds through an open field, over a creek, into a cool hardwood forest and around a wetland. Eventually the trail comes to a wooden bridge which crosses an inlet by a beaver dam and joins a boardwalk over the dunes to the lake shore. At least it did but flooding this year from high water levels has washed out the section which connects the bridge to the dune trail.
The trail currently ends here.
The lake trail which leads back to he campgrounds along the shoreline is also currently underwater due to high water levels, so I knew when we set out on our hike that morning we would end up doubling back, but I had hoped to at least be able to reach the dunes. No matter, the bridge by the beaver dam made a nice stopping point for a snack and water break.
As Delilah sniffed out assorted critter news of the day, I reflected on how my thoughts on the hike out reflected my unsettled inner state. The entire forty five minutes of the hike to the bridge had been filled with anxious worrisome thoughts about supplies (Oh I forgot to check if the cooler still had enough ice ) ticks ( Would the organic repellant I use on Delilah’s harness and paws be enough to ward off the battalion of ticks said to infest the trails everywhere this year?) incoming weather ( would I have time to get a fire going to cook with before storms predicted for the afternoon arrived?) the camper (Did I close the windows on the upper deck incase the rain came early?) on and on.
Such a barrage of nervous thinking is uncharacteristic; when I set foot on a trail, my mind customarily focuses on the immediate sights, sounds and even smells of the experience. It was not until just before we reached the beaver dam bridge that I caught how frantic my thoughts had become. A rumble I thought was thunder almost had me turn back until I realized it was the pounding of waves .
Woah girl, stop and settle.
Unable to reach the boardwalk leading to the dunes, I sat on the bridge, letting the water running over the beaver dam soothe my rattled brain. Once my thinking slowed, I laughed at my worries everytime a wave boomed in the distance. I shook my head in amazement at how easily I had slipped into fearful thinking. My eyes stung a little at the thought of being so far off balance. Just how much of a detour had the stress of the year set me back? Perhaps sensing my emotions, Delilah relinquished her pursuit of a moth and sat next to me. A gentle nudge of my elbow reminded me we had snacks and water in my day pack.
So we sat, Delilah and I, munching and listening to birds and bullfrogs and the boom, boom, boom of waves through the trees lining this side of the dunes. A few moments of serenity and grace. I even found myself smiling in anticipation of a good summer afternoon thunderstorm.They can be quite a spectacular sight rolling in off Lake Ontario.
“Now that’s more like myself,” I thought as we packed up to head back to camp. I realized I was not even a full week into summer break. I need to give myself time to regain my balance. The hike back was peaceful and slow. I walked mindfully, noticing wildflowers I had missed, heard more birds and caught sight of this grand wooded cathedral.
Walking back to the trailhead words reflected the lesson within.
Time brings endings and
All which has passed falls away
Healing follows grace
Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.