We moved slowly down the hilly roads that turned at some point from blacktop to snow covered dirt. If I weren’t there, Brian would probably have careened down the hill a bit more, picking up speed, taking the turns faster. He’s not really reckless, but more of a risk taker than I am. We had passed a “Bridge Out” sign a while back, and I kept expecting to come around a corner and crash through a barrier into a creek or skid to a stop in front of it or slide off the road into a tree trying to avoid it.
Still, I felt the adventure in this. It’s bit sad maybe that this is an adventure, for we were still in town, looking for entry to the state forest to snowshoe, but I hadn’t been up this road. We haven’t hiked much in the past five years. Our snow shoes and cross country skis and backpacks have gotten dusty. So there we were on a snowy road maybe five miles from home, maybe, and I was full of anticipation of what we might find, what new place we would see. I didn’t fret that we were running out of time, that we might spend our whole babysitter afternoon driving rambling back roads, I just watched and noticed and imagined living out here with more dispersed neighbors, but woods as a backyard, more land, just enjoyed being out and in the unfamiliar.
“Is that a trailhead?”
“Looks like it.”
Brian stopped the car and I hopped out. Yep. Henhawk Trail. I remembered reading about it in front of the fire a few days back, anticipating this outing. Watershed land. No dogs. Well broken trail.
I sat on the back of the car to pull my gaiters on. Scrrrrritch, I adjusted the Velcro and Brian got his set. I got lightheaded bending over and fiddling with my snowshoes. There was pressure on my left foot and I struggled to tighten the back strap and loosen the one over the arch of my foot. Brian upon request bent down and gave it a tug. I shrugged. Good enough.
We set off with the scratch-crunch of our metal claws on the snow. We walked single file, though the trail at the beginning probably would have accommodated two. It was quiet and still, that quiet stillness you get in the woods with no cars nearby, no other people, that quiet stillness that is really full of movement and noise: a brook bubbling and murmuring under plates of thin ice, trees swaying and creaking in a light breeze, the drip of melting snow. It was sunny and warm for January, more like March and sugar season.
As we walked, the land sloped upwards, more than I had expected. I made a mental note about walking this with the kids come spring or summer. I considered throwing Elizabeth in the backpack for a quick walk some day after I drop off Kathleen.
The water sounds grow louder as we climb. We mostly stick to the main trail, which has enough of a pack to make snowshoes superfluous, but where the water spreads on the trail, we hop up to the bankings on the side and step through the unmarked snow. We pause now and then, a quick kiss, a brief conversation—something about the kids, how far we want to go, how its gotten cooler—me leaning into Brian as we look up at the trees.
I find myself breathing in the cool air like energy, a current running through me. It seeps into me, pours into me, more quickly than the cold. I want to run. I want to stay out here all day and make cocoa. I want to trudge through the snow until I am exhausted and go home to a roaring fire. I want to write it all down. I want to just be. I breathe in the energy again. I am full of possibility.