Tales From The Trail

It’s Tuesday, and I’m still recovering from Sunday’s hike with son #2.

This is the new rhythm of my life lately.

Back in August, we started to drag each other out of our self-imposed isolation and onto the trails surrounding our city.

I believe that nature is a one-size-fits-all cure for many of our ailments – including that dangerously slippery slope of nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ – like the beginning of the year before any of us gave any thought to pandemics.

I don’t have grandchildren, so I’m just beginning to learn the lesson of what happens to one’s aging body when they start to play with someone considerably younger.

It hurts.

Misha is half my age, with a tall and lean body that eats up the trail effortlessly. My poke-along speed doesn’t seem to bother him a bit, but his youthful energy inspires that competitive side of me to push a little harder for a little longer.

I pay the price later … like every time I get up from a chair. My body creaks and moans, whines and complains.

Muscle groups I haven’t heard from since my marathon days have been sending me warning messages … but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Right?

I was grateful for the hiking pole I had stuffed into my pack at the last minute.

While my head is cast upwards at the grandness of nature at her fullest, marvelling over every gloriously yellowed tree we encounter, Misha is lost in the detail of the forest floor.

We each find what we need in these hours on the trail – sometimes over long conversations, but often in a comfortable silence. We are so alike, in our very different ways.

I’m reminded that nature’s energy also waxes and wanes.

A waterfall I remembered from January as a wild torrent in winter …

… is now only a sedate trickle in autumn after an unusually hot and dry summer.

Perhaps nature too is feeling her age.

104 comments

  1. What a lovely trail and hike, Joanne. Yes, I’m sure that your walking pole has more than paid for itself. I’m sure that I would also need one in that uneven terrain. I know what you mean about finding muscles you never knew you had. I have a couple of those giving me gyp at the moment, but hopefully a bit of rest and arnica gel will do the trick.

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  2. How wonderful that you are spending time hiking the forest trails with your son. I treasure every moment that I get to spend with my adult children. That’s you’re out in nature together β€” double bonus!

    Jude

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  3. How fabulous to spend this time with your son. In these uncertain times I think such moments and experiences become extra special. I hear you with the creaking and groaning body. Good for us to keep moving and experiencing life and nature. Our wheelchair races at the nursing home are a long was off yet friend. πŸ™‚

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  4. Oops! I’m a few days late in marveling at the beauty of your photos, Joanne. What a pretty trail!
    I understand how trying to play with a younger son could make you ache, but it’s a wonderful opportunity for you to spend time with your son. Most likely that remedies the aches in good way.

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  5. Yes, what a marvelous display, the grandness of nature at her fullest! I really enjoy finding them at your post!

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  6. I know that morning after response – the one that lasts for as long as two or three days, sometimes! But it’s so worth it to have the chance to be out of doors, stretching yourself, and being with someone who shares your passion.

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    • I’m finding the old body just doesn’t bounce back quite as well as it used to. The recovery periods are getting longer and longer … but I’ll keep dragging myself outdoors as often as I can, for as long as I can. Like you said, it is worth it!!

      I hope you are continuing to do well. Even with winter breathing down your neck, I’m guessing you’re just as happy not to be down in the plague-infested south end of the province.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That looks like such a beautiful hike, Joanne! They’ve finally repaired the Blue Ridge Parkway nearby and so I’m hoping to get back out to my go-to trail soon. The aches and pains of age keeping up with youth reminds me of when my daughter was about 5 and we were visiting a museum. My father-in-law decided to skip along with her from the block or so we walked to get there…and he could barely walk for days afterward.

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    • I get it! Skipping is hard!! When I was young, skipping was a default mode … and now … not so much 😏

      There still plenty of good hiking days ahead and hopefully both of us will get to take advantage of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s good to see a new post from you, Joanne. This one is beautiful in so many ways. What a gorgeous place. I particularly like the first photo. l understand about the soreness. I have no idea what I even DID, but my back has been miserable since Tuesday morning… Be well be happy. Hugs on the wing!

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    • Hi Teagan – nice to hear from you. I’m really struggling to keep in touch with the blogging world. How is it that the days just seem to evaporate?

      I hope your back is feeling better and your spirits are high. These are challenging days and we have to carry on the best we can. For me, it means going into hermit mode and venturing out periodically for a walk in nature. Nothing beats it!

      Be well!! ❀️

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  9. Spending time in nature is so good for our soul. Add the opportunity to explore with our children to that mix and that time spent becomes even more precious.πŸ’•. Love that you & Misha have this time together. 😘

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    • Thanks Lynn. As I’m sure you know, making that mother-son connection can be a bit of a challenge. It’s almost like we’re 2 different species πŸ˜‰ It seems however that nature is our common language!!

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  10. I couldn’t agree more about nature being a balm for the soul. After a summer of cycling I’ve moved into hiking with my husband who, like your son, has long legs and an inclination to speed. Yesterday’s hike was quite challenging not in miles but in the condition of the hilly trail which was extremely muddy and pocked with leaf covered rocks and boulders making for slippery terrain. I had my eyes on the trail the whole time for fear of slipping. Thank goodness for hiking poles to help with footing and balance! Still, like you, I’m feeling it this morning!

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    • I saw your photos from Gatineau. I’ve had my eye on this area for a while and your description of leaf covered rocks and boulders just makes it all the more attractive! Someday!!

      Meanwhile, my bikes have been sitting in the basement collecting dust and cobwebs for a year. I just can’t muster up the enthusiasm πŸ˜•

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        • I really related to this post. And I appreciated it because many times I hid the fact that I am sore after playing for an hour and a half with a 12-year-old granddaughter or a 36-year-old son! You are so lucky to have this time hiking with your son. If I had alone time with my son I would stretch every muscle that I had to spend it with him. Yes, to allowing ourselves to acknowledge that we’re not as strong as we were but we certainly love more than ever.

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  11. Being outdoors has really made the difference for me these past few months. Good for you getting out there and working through the discomfort. I decided to play some tennis after 30 years and paid for it for a couple of weeks, but now I feel accomplished – haha! As usual, your photos are stunning.

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    • My right shoulder just ached in sympathy!

      In spite of all the bad things that have come out of this pandemic – for which there is no shortage! – there have also been some good things. For many people, reconnecting with old hobbies, sports, and nature has to be high on the list.

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  12. Nature will be back with gusto, Joanne, I’m not sure about our aging muscle groups. When I do hike, there’s always a price to pay, but as you have shown, it’s a price worth paying.

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  13. Dear Joan
    We all four like hiking. But we Bookfayries and Dina are faster than our dear Master is. But that doesn’t matter as we taking photographs, look at mushrooms and leaves and then he will arrive well-tempered because he could walk his pace. Actually, we all like to walk and we all have our different paces but that doesn’t matter. Our dear Master is not at all trying to keep up with us, he is kind of proud not to be competitive – at least not when we are hiking.
    Wishing you a wonderful rest of the week
    The Fab Four of Cley
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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  14. It all looks so beautiful. And the trees right now just can’t be beaten. I should take a hike sometime, it would be nice to get away from all the ugly going on and just focus on the beauty.

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  15. No matter the physical pain, you are so right to get out there and keep those bones moving. Good for the body, good for the soul! And it sounds like these hikes are special times for you and your sons. Enjoyed the whimsical, bittersweet ending on the waterfall.

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    • This has been (and continues to be) a troubling year for everyone. For those who don’t have the instinct – or ability – to get out and seek comfort in nature, this has to be an even greater challenging time.
      You’re so right that time in nature is good for the body, but most days I feel it’s imperative for the soul!

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  16. Beautiful photos from what looks to be a beautiful hike! As I’m nursing sore muscles from the gym today, I understand your pain! πŸ˜› Have a banana and keep moving πŸ™‚

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  17. Well, there is a nice side-effect of these Covid days (sorry sore muscles!): spending more time with your son. When you mentioned him being skinny and tall and effortlessly hiking the trails, I had to think about my husband. Sure, he is five years older than me, but his legs are longer (I once measured the difference: he takes four steps for my five; this adds up!) and I struggle to keep up! Exercise is good. Doing it in nature is even better! πŸ™‚

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    • You make an excellent point about the step count. We were both carrying trackers and my step count was over 3000 more than his over 4 hours. You’re right. It does add up!! When you add in the challenge of climbing and descending, the shorter leg span makes it that much more difficult.

      But you’re right – covid has provided this opportunity to spend time with my son that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought about.

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  18. What a lovely way to spend time with your son; I share all your feelings about nature as therapy, cure, or just plain fun. Having trained for a very long hike last year, I know your pain! But I’ll also add (as I know you already know from your marathon days) that those kinks and aches actually feel better if you keep moving just a little bit in the days that follow. I used to think I’d be out of commission after some long runs on the weekends, but our plan forced me to at least walk on Mondays, and I swear that helped! Keep on trekkin’!

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    • I absolutely know the need to keep moving! – with a lot of rolling and stretching thrown in as well.

      I like that term ‘nature as therapy’. It has never been as important as it has been this year for so many!

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  19. I have a creaking body after half a day in the garden! I think a hike might actually be better for me. I loved the walks I shared with my son when he was down here recuperating. Like you, sometimes we spent it in conversation, other times happy silence. We walked. We talked. We laughed. I think we bonded in a way that we hadn’t been able to when he was younger and a middle child. Having a friendship with our adult kids is very, very special.

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    • You’re right, Jude. There is a different kind of bonding that happens with your child on the trail. It’s calmer, relaxed … a feeling like the world has just slipped away and there is all the time you need.

      The thing I find about having sons is that they don’t readily share their thoughts and feelings. This kind of activity is perfect for those soft effortless conversations that women seem to do so well.

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  20. Joanne, you seem like a force to be reckoned with, with energy to spare! I have often lamented how much more I used to accomplish in a day, or even in an hour. But then I realized, who cares? Aging isn’t a contest. Why are we in competition with our younger selves?

    At 81 I figure I should be glad I can brush my teeth….or that I have teeth! Something that comes with aging is a bit of wisdom. We automatically find easier ways to accomplish our chores. They may still take us longer, but with much less stress on our joints and muscles. Having said that, I have to admit there are still days when I truly believe I missed the Golden Years and went straight to Rust! Lol.

    Love the photographs of the waterfall. Just beautiful. What a wonderful way to spend a day, doing something you love with someone you love.

    All your photographs are amazing. The one that caught my attention is of your son squatting down my a dead tree and debris. It looks like a huge sea monster that took a wrong turn!

    Ginger

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    • Thanks Ginger for making me laugh first thing in the morning … “there are still days when I truly believe I missed the Golden Years and went straight to Rust!”

      For many years now I’ve said that I won’t go quietly into the night, but I’ll have to be dragged kicking and screaming. Now I’m starting to think it might be more of a whimper 😏

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  21. Nature is my drug of choice, too, Joanne, although nature in Arizona looks very different from that in Illinois. πŸ™‚ I don’t do much hiking because my husband has a hip that bothers him if he actually hikes vs. walking for a bit. And he’s a cyclist while I’m a walker/hiker, so we often have trips where he cycles and I hike and then meet him somewhere with the van or car. I have two sorts of walks right now: one at the Preserve where I have my Nikon with me and do a lot of stopping to look for or photograph birds or something and the kind where I walk fast along the nearby canal (exercise walking.) Both are fun. πŸ™‚

    janet

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  22. What a nice day to spend with one of your baby boys :-). It is pretty amazing how long it takes to recover from physical activity these days. I look back at my 30’s and am pretty amazed at all the things we would cram into one day. I can’t imagine doing the same things now!

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    • I’m getting better at managing my expectations at what I’m able to accomplish in a day.

      My cousin once told me that she planned only one thing a day. My exuberance was feeling a little smug after that comment.

      … now however, I’m starting to appreciate the wisdom in her words. I’m not feeling quite so smug anymore 😏

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  23. I’m a walker and not a hiker. I look at some of those roots and can envision a face plant. πŸ™‚ A day outside and with your son is certainly balm for the soul if maybe not so much for the body. As you said, though, a couple of days to rest up and you’re ready to go again. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come in from working outside for maybe three hours and think geez back in the day I could have had that done in half the time. Oh well, we work with what we have right now. Good to hear from you, and your writing and photography skills are as sharp as ever. πŸ™‚

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    • omg – I had to laugh at your comment about working outdoors and it’s taking twice as long to get it done. That’s exactly what happened this afternoon.

      I was moving things around prepping for the reno that starts next week. The simple task of vacuuming a carpet, rolling it up, and storing it away took waaaaaay longer than it should have.

      No wonder my to-do list just gets longer and longer.
      And no wonder as we age the days feel shorter and shorter!

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  24. If we don’t push ourselves as we age, age will become more of a curse than a gift. Your photos are lovely and the contrast of the waterfall in different seasons is amazing. Misha is a photographer after my own heart: I have found that photography has helped me be more aware of my surroundings and to notice more details when I am out and about.

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    • I agree wholeheartedly about the power of a camera to focus our awareness on our surroundings. I find it so interesting to see the photos taken by others on a shared excursion. Each of our perspectives tells a story.

      Losing mobility is one of my greatest fears. I will keep pushing myself for as long as I can – with the massage and Chiro bills to prove it.

      … although admittedly, I doubt I’ll ever run another race. THOSE days are in the rearview mirror πŸ˜‰

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  25. I agree with Erica and yourself re: wearing out vs. rusting out. But a caveat is to know your limit (and hike within it). πŸ˜‰
    It’s good to be pushed (a little) but bad to be pushed to injury.
    It’s a fine balance we have to learn to walk, as we age. Humbling.

    Deb

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  26. Joanne, your trek through the forest is very different from my walk on the beach, but the benefits are clearly the same – nourishment for body and soul. Sore muscles are just a reminder of the accomplishment! Beautifully written piece.

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  27. I admire your tenacity! My hikes are much shorter these days and very local. There is something healing about being out of doors. I will miss that in the winter as I am a wuss and don’t walk much outside in the winter.

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  28. Ah walking in nature. It’s a great way to connect to it and your offspring. The colours on the forest floor draw me in. Hard to believe that the waterfall is the same spot in the woods – vastly different from one season to another. Does it freeze over in the winter? That would be a cool picture!

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    • I had only seen this waterfall in winter so I was more than surprised by its anemic stream. I’ve never seen in freeze over though. I suspect moving water like this might get a crust over it but the water would still be moving underneath the crust.

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  29. Great to hear how you are still hiking with your son, Joanne. β€œRecovering” speaks volumes. Yes, β€œit hurts” although, a good kind of hurt. You know the saying about β€œwear out versus rust out”. Exceptional photos of Misha amidst the Fall leaves! I get it on the comfortable silence. A thought-provoking post, especially for Fall. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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