Monday, September 13, 2010

Second Night Hike

The second night, we set out again in the evening, this time on purpose and with flashlights. The results were similar though. A very long and eventful hike with lots of getting lost.

These night hikes really reminded me of our days as roommates at St. Olaf College where we would just kind of strike out into the woods at night on brightly moonlit evenings when our homework assignments seemed to overwhelm us. This was a near nightly occurrence of course and I would say that it made me realize that I had been working on song path much longer than I had thought. It probably goes all then way back to these night hikses or even before. In any case, I am glad Chris was here for the ending weekend as it gave me one more chance to reflect and explore where all these ideas came from. I also would have never tried these night hikes myself.

We started by setting out down the meadow trail with the goal of eventually crossing the whitewater on the stone slab bridge and heading up to the valley trail and do the valley loop. The meadow itself was rich with wildlife, both plant and animal, and very noisy. Basically a wall of sound in places with the constant din of the river to our right which was extremely directional as in this trail there is a sheer cliff next to the river and an open meadow on the other side. A great sonic combination.

As we rounded a corner on the trail headed away from the river a bit, we heard noises in the meadow which definitely freaked us out for a moment but then we realized that a herd of dear were passing by and were startled by our presence with bright flashlights. We shined these lights in the direction of the noise and could see at least 8, maybe 10 pairs of eyes staring at us like............deer in the headlights?? We clapped and made some noise and then turned and leaped away as we watched a flurry of white tails passing in and out of the torchlight.

Then our troubles began, a bridge with many trail heads on either side of us thoroughly confused us so we just took the one that seemed to make the most sense. This led to the group camp which was occupied by a large group of high school kids and the trail led straight through their camp where they were having a big bonfire gathering so we decided not to mess with it and turned and took the other loop around the group camp. This trail also went through the campsite but behind the cabins so we hiked quietly by as if we were two fugitives running from the US marshals (bad joke I guess) and then headed up and across the stone bridge to the valley loop. Again, there was some question as to where we should go but as this intersected the dakota trail that I had hiked a few days before I was able to discern at least the way NOT to go and we arrived at the loop. Unfortunately, the trail became very narrow here and plant growth basically covered the entire trail so it was difficult to make out if we were going the right way. We turned back but again spent a good deal of time crossing the stone stepping bridge and listening to the sounds around us.

Finally we arrived back at the meadow trail deciding it best to take the same trail back so as to not end up getting lost again. We were rewarded by a bench overlooking the river where we sat a minute and listened to the sounds of crickets, frogs, and other wildlife droning behind us and two separate water features to the left and right of us resonating against the cliff walls by the river. It was a really nice ending to the hike. We made it back to the campsite and had a well deserved glass of wine and cigar each and then fell into our tents exhausted after about 3 hours of hiking on top of 3 day hikes!!! I am getting skinny.

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