A Quiet Forest

August 17, 2012

Hike along the Middle fork trail (#1003) from Dingford Gate to Goldmyer Hot Springs

The air is warm and still as I hike through the slowly darkening forest. I stop. All is quiet. Not the roar of the Middle-Fork river or the bubbling of a creek can be heard; nor the chirp of a bird or the buzzing of a mosquito. I am the only one making a sound today along the trail. I am noisy; the gravel underfoot crunches, the shoulder straps from my backpack creak, and the ball inside my whistle clonks around. I stop hiking to take in the silence and solitude. The forest here is open; there is no thicket of berry bushes or tall ferns like back at Goldmyer. Just a mossy carpet with small plants spaced here and there. There is nowhere to hide, no bush to crouch down behind. The understory is naked. It seems like good place to spot a bear wandering aimlessly – looking for grubs perhaps. The quiet openness of the forest and fading daylight give a slightly spooky effect to the area. But for me, at this moment, I find solace in the solitude.

Even the bugs are absent in this spot. It’s warm enough not to be wearing clothes. I am tempted to strip away my polyester layers and find a soft mossy spot to lie down and let the stillness of the woods envelop me. I imagine the moss spreading its tentacles, reclaiming my body back into the Earth, much like the old cables, barrels and railroad tracks from the days of mining that dot sections of the Middle-Fork trail; the forest is slowly covering man’s mark on the Earth. A line from a Shook Twins song comes to mind: “Eventually the walls will fall. The things we build don’t last as long.” [1]

The primeval wolverine urge wins out and I find myself walking a little off trail to find a comfy spot to relax, clothes-less. I come to what looks like a nice spot, uphill from the trail, just hidden enough that if hikers aren’t paying attention they won’t spot me. I strip off my clothes, pull out a snack and find what looks to be a green pillowy bed. Hmm. Deceptive. Although the moss is green, it isn’t very soft. As a matter of fact, it is prickly and crunchy. Looks inviting but it is deceiving in the hot days of August. Aww well, I make do and enjoy the situation and scenery anyways. The air is so still and warm and peaceful. I want to stay here and take a nap, but daylight is slipping away and I have a few more miles to go back home, to Goldmyer Hot Springs.

After another hour or so of hiking I come to Thunder Creek. I’m hot and sweaty. There is a cold pool just up from the log bridge that looks awfully inviting. The roar of Thunder Creek is now the dominant sound, but a tranquil one. I once again strip off my clothes and walk into the rushing mountain stream. At first I am oblivious to the coldness of the crystal-clear water that is refreshing and invigorating. Seconds into my dip, the ice-cold water reaches my most sensitive areas and swiftly numbs my extremities. My toes become tingly. Upon stepping out of the creek, my body quickly readjusts to the warm air and I am content. I take one more quick dip before continuing on my journey.

Soon the forest canopy opens up and vegetation becomes thicker. Off in the distance is the hooting of an owl. The resident nightlife is waking up. To me the forest is still quiet, void of human sounds. The songs of Mother Earth float on the wind keeping rhythm to my stride. I arrive back at my cabin just before the darkness swallows up the woods and mountains letting the hymn of nature fade out.

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One thought on “A Quiet Forest

  1. Beautiful James…. simply lovely.. Keep writing.

    “I imagine the moss spreading its tentacles, reclaiming my body back into the Earth, much like the old cables, barrels and railroad tracks from the days of mining that dot sections of the Middle-Fork trail; the forest is slowly covering man’s mark on the Earth. A line from a Shook Twins song comes to mind: “Eventually the walls will fall. The things we build don’t last as long.”

    My favorite paragraph.

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