Yesterday, while encamped at Cedarville State Forest, Karen and I hiked the seven-mile Holly (Orange) Trail. Picking up the path twenty yards behind our camping site, we followed it clockwise through the forest. Predominant among the trees were holly, oak, and pine. In places the ground was covered with a plush carpet of fern.
A mile or two into our walk we stopped where the creek bed formed a pond and listened, in medias res, to an opera of frogs—although, at first, neither of us were certain of the identity of the mellifluous performers.
The trail is rightly designated by the park service as “easy.” Not to say that it makes seven miles feel like three, but the trail is relatively smooth and gentle on one’s feet. Moreover, there is little altitude change, just a little rolling over the terrain. And one could only try to get lost; what with the wooden directional posts, the quarter-mile spaced iron posts, the colored pieces of cloth affixed to tree branches, and the swatches on tree trunks, one hardly needs a map. Even so, I like to have one with me. There is something comforting about seeing on paper where one is. Why, I’m not sure. I think it makes it easier to trust that the trail goes where one supposes it goes. (Have you ever thought of how much faith is required to go out, into the woods, following a trail that someone else made?)
Our hike was, for the most part, solitary, quiet, even serene. A few bicyclists crossed our path, a couple of frogs, and several small groups of senior citizens. One elderly gentleman, before inquiring whether he was near to the terminus, suggested that we were walking in the “wrong” direction before instantly correcting himself: the “opposite” direction. Opposite to him? Obviously, but there still seemed something objectively descriptive in his “opposite.” It set me wondering what a wrong direction would be. One contrary to one’s purposes, no doubt, or against one’s best interest. In any case, I’ll be sure to let you know if ever I should hike in the wrong direction. That could be useful information indeed!