Butterfly Mind

Running away to the woods

I hiked alone yesterday. I needed to get out of the house.

Beech tree in winter

Actually, I needed to get away from our kids. They’ve been home for what seems like weeks now (13.5 days, to be exact), and I couldn’t take the bickering and wrestling and whining and begging and pouting and grumping anymore.

Poverty Creek Trail

After two weeks of being around them 24/7 I was no fun to be around, either. I was so crotchety and cramped in that I didn’t even want to be around me, and while I considered going for a run, I’m tired of my running circuit: the same hay bales, the same sheep, the same hills and cows and horses in blankets. I needed more drastic measures yesterday. I needed to get in the car and drive away.

I wanted to be alone in the forest. And I wanted to see if there was ice on the Pandapas Pond.

Pandapas Pond crystalizing

Winter hasn’t quite arrived in Blacksburg. It has been fairly warm here the past few nights, so I wasn’t sure how liquid or solid the pond might be. I was excited when I hiked in, gloves and hat on, camera in hand, and saw a thin sheath of new ice creeping from the shore towards the middle of the pond. I lost myself for a while watching the breeze blow ripples against the thin crust; I was mesmerized by the movement of liquid against the crystal skin.

Pond freeze in progress

The trail, too, was icy. It is heavily trafficked by mountain bikers, hikers, and runners, and low points in the path are often trampled into mud pits. I always forget that on this trail. There was no way around the first pit, so I steeled myself to sink into it. But my boot didn’t squish into the muck, it crunched over it. The shiny mud was frozen solid.

I love hiking solo, listening to the crackle of leaves (or mud) underfoot, the thump of my boots on the trail, the sigh of wind over my ears. I stop and take photos. I breathe cold air into my nose. I feel my cheeks turn pink and nod at runners as they pass. I spend time in my head, running calculations on how many notebooks I’ll fill if I write 10 minutes per day for an entire year (~5.5 100-page composition books).

Mossy stone in the woods

Sometimes I come home from a hike recharged, ready to take on the tasks of life again. Other times I return home and wish I could have more. More quiet. More solitude. More thinking time. Yesterday, fortunately, was the former. I returned to a house full of children (ours and others’), but also to a warm kitchen where I sank my hands into bread dough, and to a husband who assured me I wasn’t a horrible person for running away.

This is my entry for the Daily Post Photo Challenge: New.