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All Trails Lead to Happiness

I can’t tell you how glorious it is to me to watch spring exploding throughout the yard; buds, new green branch growth, leaves, flowers, vines, and every other variety of fauna is everywhere. Nothing is really open yet, except for the flowers like daffodils, but is poised much like coiled springs waiting to burst forth. And that is how it will happen, all of a sudden there will be opened leaves everywhere on all the trees – or at least most of them. We’ve had some spectacular weather over the last week, along with seasonable and even cold weather; classic New England. We reached well into the 70’s one day and then into the 30’s at night: the advent of spring!

I have not been hiking in two weeks now; I couldn’t hike for several days after I had the biopsy and then we had some rainy weather, and once all that cleared up, I was having a terrible time with my foot/heel and would never have managed anything more than a mile or two. I’ve tried heel pads, shoe inserts, and even some stupid Machiavellian brace device you wear in your sleep but nothing has really helped. I am currently taking a dietary supplement that my doctor recommended and it might actually be helping. Such a pain… in more ways than one.

But hiking is in my future this week, tomorrow in fact, heel pain or not. Spring is a wonderful time to hike and should not be missed; if I have to do it with a limp then that’s what I will do! Speaking of hiking, I have started writing a book about hiking in RI. I am not at all sure there is still a demand for books given the tidal wave of digital information and apps on phones. I grew up with books and still carry three hiking books in my truck at all time, and often bring one with me when I head out on trail.

I plan to detail some number of my favorite hikes, with directions to it, parking info, and some detailed descriptive information on the trail: what to expect for level of effort, things one might hope to see along the way, and some historical facts as applicable. And unlike this blog, as some of you have written to me to “complain” about, I will include a lot of pictures in it. The hard part is that, while I know a lot of my trails like the back of my hand, you can’t write it from memory. You simply can’t take the chance of stating something incorrectly or missing something critical or placing something out of sequence and really confusing your reader. So I almost need to hike and write at the same time. I think I will voice record my comments as I hike and then use that to write up the hike.

One thing I look forward to doing in this book is bundling hikes – one of my favorite things. The trails in west RI are so plentiful that in places, they either cross each other or pass each other within a quarter mile or less. So rather than picking one hike over another, if you know your trails you can hike one trail, pick up another trail and hike it, and then end up right back on the trail you starter on to finish your hike. You can bundle three, four, and even five or more trails to add mileage and diversity to your hikes. I just recently did one hike that used at least part of four trails for 12.6 miles. Last year I did nearly 15 miles one day and several years ago I did 21 miles in a day without ever leaving the woods and without ever retracing my steps, all by just connecting trails together in the right sequence.

I am cautiously excited about this project; I foresee a lot of work and minimal success. As I said, people do not “do” books much anymore; especially on the trails in the woods. But I remain a little hopeful that there will be a small market here in RI that will have interest – especially if I make sure to include lots of photos that demonstrate the beauty of our woods here. I already have a lot because I typically get overwhelmed with the splendor of the forest around me. But for this I need to make sure I have my A-game and take shots that truly represent that beauty. I would also like to attempt to get four shots of the really amazing areas, one in each season so as to reflect the diversity of the woods in those seasons.

After a brief pause in jotting down my thoughts in this post, I am back; and I spoke too soon. Yesterday dwelled in the upper 30’s all day with an incessant outpouring of rain and snow. Yes, snow. Fortunately we had no accumulation here, but in other parts of the state they got up to 5” of it. This momentary interruption aside, spring continues to burst forth everywhere in the yard.

I cannot speak for the progress in the woods however, as I still have not been out for over two weeks now. This week was nulled by the weather both Thursday and Friday. While I suppose I could have “toughed it out” and hiked in the rain, with a problematic heel it did not seem to be the proper choice. And as much as I hike for the physical exercise and to be in the woods, I hike because I enjoy it and frankly, I do not enjoy being in the rain when the temp is in the 30’s or even 40’s.

But I have little doubt that I will get out next week and look forward to being on trail once again. It will not be long before the mountain laurel and rhododendrons will be blossoming soon and that, dear reader, is one of the most majestic things you can see in the woods as the flowers of white and pink sharply contrast against the verdant greens of new spring growth. I call it the natural first communion (with pardons to any devout Catholics who may take exception to my analogy). Tuesday is promising 65 and sunny – see you on the trail. Stay well dear reader!!

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