Just yesterday I returned from the woods of NH where I took my son, Cato, on his very first back pack adventure into the wilderness.
It was a long overdue salvation – a return to simple visions with days & nights – the only drama incurred as was associated with the strident rain, relentless chipmunks, or the overwhelming beauty of the mountain forest emanating morning mist into the skies overhead. In many ways it was a return to times past ~ for it has been a good 15 years since I last set foot upon those trails. But there, in the company of my wonderful, eager and energetic little boy ~ we re-discovered the very spots that provided a respite from the chaos during my youth. Perhaps that is why it felt so quietly profound….for I felt, for the first time in ages, that I could breath out a long sigh and bring a healthy breath back into these tired lungs without fear of reprisal, comment, misinterpretation, or offensive assault.
The second day greeted us brisky, reminding us that we were in fact in the unpredictable valleys in a New England fall. But shortly thereafter, the day opened before us in it’s pure, stained glass brilliance. We consolidated to a single pack for the day – complete with provisions, water filter, and gear so that we could explore without concern until night fall. We hiked for miles upstream ~ often hugging the east bank of the Pemigewasset where we would venture onto the vast embankments of polished river granite where waterfalls & the rich red & orange reflections of autumn collide. It was a world unto itself ~ completely alone, he & I, ~ with not a human encounter for a good 6 miles and 3/4 of a days time.
The woods took on a earthy perfumed existence at this time of year ~ as our narrow trail was laden with a rich carpet of ash, birch, maple and oak leaves. They had not yet begun to compost, as they do by Spring when uncovered by the retreated snows, but were overwhelmingly sweet with fragrance.