Friday, September 11, 2009

Hikers on the Trail

When we are on the trail, we usually don't run into many people, especially in the "off season" we've had this week in Wisconsin. If we find another hiker coming towards us, we nod and say hello pleasantly, while continuing to walk. We appreciate it if they bring their large dog to heel while we pass, as most do.
The Bluff Trail at Devil's Lake was a bit different today. We climbed more of those stone steps to reach the 500 foot high bluff trail, but this time the steps were surrounded by trees, and I could handle it. This is the first weekend after Labor Day, and many people where trying to get in another outing at the park while the weather is perfect. But some of them just irritated me no end. One guy wanted to dispute the name of the lake. "The Devil destroys things. I call it God's Lake," he said. We nodded and quickly continued climbing the stairs to the bluffs, having caught our breath a bit. He passed us, and we found him eagerly disputing scripture with his fellow hikers at the next lovely overlook. Without nodding, we went on. It went like this across the entire trail. Then we saw three young people, college age, and nodded to them. They were followed by another five, then another six, then I lost count. Since all of them carried notebooks and pencils, I asked one, "Are you from a geology class?" Bingo! Score one for Kathy. There were about 100 of them from the University of Wisconsin, on a field trip to see the rocks. They talked, without ceasing, both to each other and to friends on their cell phones. Some had music playing through earphones. "Why would someone come to this beautiful place and spend time talking on the phone?" We shook our heads in dismay. Then the Disputer showed up trying to preach to these students at another overlook. When he started talking about granite, and how it got there, I knew it was time to leave. (The rocks are quartzite, not granite.) The students didn't quite know how to wiggle out. We come to Nature to relax, to put our lives in perspective. Today it was a struggle, but we managed with the help of our friends. How often do you get to take photos of vultures from above? I threw away lots and lots of blurry vulture pictures along with empty sky pictures. When vultures fly at your eye level, you realize how fast they are soaring without flapping a bit. I'm feeling better already, encouraged by the vultures to take the high path, and not let lower things irritate me. Silence is worth everything. You can rise above things that bother you.
Since our visit here a mere three days ago, it seems that autumn has set in. The False Solomon Seal leaves fade to yellow, against the crimson of their berries. Other leaves turn gold and yellow, while more merely look wilted and ready to fall of without changing color at all. The seasons move as they should, no matter who hikes on the trail, whether anyone appreciates them or not. It's just what they do.
Down on the lake, we saw a few crows in a dead tree, while a Kingfisher darted about, finally landing farther away than we could photograph. We quietly walked towards it, taking shots every few steps. You guessed it, we approached its comfort zone, even though we were still at least 50-60 feet away from its branch overhanging the water, and it flew off. When something gets too close, just fly away, it seemed to say. There are other fish in the lake.
The Tumbled Rock Trail along the lake water has an asphalt path that winds and disappears without notice. How anyone ever got hot asphalt in between these boulders to form this trail is beyond me! It must have all been done by hand, since the trail is too small for machinery to traverse. Perseverance pays. Just keep on keepin' on, even then the trail is hard to find. The quartzite rocks are covered with lichens where the sun shines, but if you bend over a bit you see marvelous swirls of color, laid down by oceans so long ago I can't even guess how old they are. Sometimes only a tree or another boulder seems to restrain a huge rock from falling to the water. Imagine having to carry that weight and responsibility on your shoulders for thousands of years. You think you've got it tough, cookie? Things could be lots worse.
Our last friend was a turtle sunning himself on a rock. Get tough, he seemed to say. Just let things roll of your shell and turn your back on those folks who would annoy you. The lake and the sun are still here. Just chill out and don't bother making judgments about other people. It doesn't help you, and it certainly won't affect them.

No comments: