I am fortunate in that I live 1 1/2 miles from the gate to Bradbury Mountain State Park. Because of my age - just about everything these days is because of my age - I can get in free. I take advantage of this benefit as often as possible.
On this particular day I am getting my kit ready in the parking lot and I notice a quartet that about to begin their hike and notice that it consist of what seems to be a 14 year old boy, an infant in a big wheeled stroller and what I assume to be a mother and grandmother, both of whom are rather wide in the beam.
I decide that rather than overtaking them - they are surely going to be slow - I'd take a shortcut through the playing field and get out on the trail ahead of them. When I got to the head-off point they were a hundred yards beyond. These overweight women pushing a baby carriage are walking much faster than I am. Soon they are out of sight. I am quickly re-evaluating my physical condition.
However, I carry on toward my destination which is the perimeter, or boundary trail - the longest and most difficult of the walks available on the mountain. Surely these portly women will not be attempting to push a pram over those trails which can be a challenge for healthy hikers alone. Guess what? That's where they were. When I got to the junction for the perimeter trail there they were trying to decide what to do, as the terrain had begun to be challenging.
In my most genuinely supportive tone I suggest that they not attempt what would likely be impossible and to do another trail which would be possible for them and more enjoyable. They seemed to be pleased to have this information and proceeded to take my advise. I probably saved their day. However, no matter how wide their bottoms were, they were out there out pacing me, who, in my inflated ego state, felt I could and even should out pace them and their baby buggy. When will I ever learn? I can just hear Freddie Mercury's refrain: "Fat bottomed girls, you make the rockin' world go round".
Living as close as I do, I am able to report on winter, spring, summer and fall. Don't worry - I will not do that here. I do remember once when CA and I clung to each other to get over a particular passage of icy trail to get to the summit. I believe it was March. What were we thinking? During visits long ago, I actually ran the trails that I now carefully negotiate with a supporting staff. Just coming to grips with reality, folks.
Bradbury Mountain is a pocket park in the classic sense. The park is tiny as parks go but it can handle scores of people without having them bump into each other. I have gone out there when the parking lot was full and not seen a soul on the trails. Weekends in good weather excepted.
In the day, this was a farm. Stone walls are all over this mountain. Such things were not constructed in the woods. they were there to make clear the fields that were cultivated or grazed. Now, people like me walk along these trails thinking wilderness and the shades of generations past, who cleared the land and piled up these stone walls, laugh up their etherial sleeves at our hubris. Once it was wilderness, but that was long long ago.
Ultimately, I arrived at the summit and found that I was surprisingly alone. I enjoyed the view and had a swig from my bottle while a couple walked up from the opposite direction. The young woman had on a pair of pink and yellow sneaks, fresh from the box, it seemed, and loudly noticeable. They seemed almost electrified. I made some comment about the pink and yellow sneaks and she looked at me with that blank stare, which suggested to me that she did not have English as even a secondary language. Ah, Québécois perhaps? The shoes should have told me that much. She never uttered a sound. So I lifted a foot and tapped it indicating that that was the subject of my comment and she more or less smiled and went on her way with her companion. So much for my lame attempt at international sociality.
I always say that I am out there to get the exercise, but what happens is that I end up experiencing the "magic" that is there for anyone who walks in the woods. There's always the chance that I will discover something new or forgotten about being in nature. About being alive. About myself. Some days out there are more effective than others. Today was one of the good days.