An Autumn Hike

As I write this, I’m currently using up the last of my vacation time from work for the year. I had all sorts of grand plans about errands I needed to run and I thought maybe I would take a hike on one of the many trails in my area and then Mother Nature said, “no, screw you, I’m sending a huge blizzard.” So instead I’m just sitting here looking at the pictures I took on a hike I did last month and wishing I could go outside.

It was the week of Thanksgiving and I had taken off the three days before, as I usually do if I still have vacation time at that point of the year. I live in a pretty populated area, but I’m not far from a whole area of woodlands specially set aside for preservation and recreation. I’d been wanting to go into the woods for awhile, but because people can’t do indoor activities due to the pandemic the parking areas are often quite full. But on my second day off I had a very early doctor’s appointment so I knew I would have a good chance to get a spot at the area I wanted to explore, and I was right!

The area of the woods I went to has well defined trails, often covered by gravel, so I wasn’t too worried about getting lost or dealing with overly difficult footing. I meant to go to a waterfall that was nearby, but apparently can’t read simple maps so I wound up following the trail that snaked alongside a river, which was fine by me because if you’ve been following this blog for a long time you will know I love a water feature.

The trail was wide and easy to follow and while the weather was cool it wasn’t overly uncomfortable because I had my heavy coat and a pair of mittens. And also I’ve found that my mask is actually very nice to have in the cold! Even though I didn’t see many people, I wore it most of the time I was walking to protect me from the chilly breeze. The sky was mostly grey, but occasionally the sun came out. All in all, I thought it was a nice day for a hike, but maybe that’s just me!

The few people I did see had apparently gotten up even earlier than me because they were headed in the direction of the parking area. Pretty much everyone said good morning to me, which as someone aware of how curmudgeonly my fellow New Jerseyans can be made me feel kind of weird. Is it proof that being out in nature can life someone’s mood? Who can say?

I walked along for quite awhile, completely losing track of time, and then I came to kind of a weird clearing and finally thought to check the clock on my phone. I realized about an hour had passed and I figured that considering I hadn’t brought any water with me I should probably head back. The hike out was a little more challenging in some respects due to some parts of the path that had been downhill on the way in now being uphill, but it took me less time because I kept stopping to take pictures of neat trees and other things that caught my eye on the way in.

For instance, there was this tree that made me wonder: how much other foliage is here in the summer that it wound up growing like this?

I had a really good time on this hike, just getting to escape for awhile and enjoy being alone someplace different, as crazy as it probably is to take a hike like this by myself. It wasn’t my first time doing this kind of thing, and it definitely won’t be my last. Considering that this area is still quite close to civilization and I never lost cell service I didn’t really have a fear of getting into a bad situation. I definitely wouldn’t go on a hike in some unusual out of the way place alone, I’m not quite that stupid!

I do want to go back and actually take the path to the waterfall, though. Hopefully this massive pile of snow will melt away soon so I can go!

Thawing

When the long winter ends, and the first really nice warm day arrives, you ache to be outside. So when you’re finally released from your day of work, you acquire provisions and drive to your favorite field.

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It’s a simple pleasure to sit in a sun-filled field on a warm evening, a breeze caressing shoulders that have finally been able to shed their cardigan exoskeleton. The sun slowly sinks toward sleep behind the trees as the air is filled with the scents of warm grass and the cigar that a stranger is smoking a ways away from you. You’re not even sure if your grandfather smoked cigars, but somehow the scent reminds you of him, which in turn reminds you of how he loved taking you on your childhood Disney trip so much that he talked about it until he died. But the bittersweet sadness of this memory is whisked away on the wind before it can properly take root and ruin everything, thank god.

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You lie on the old soft blanket you keep in the trunk of your car, reading a good book, and feel real deep peace steal over you for the first time since the long season of storms began. There is sweet music around you — someone calling their dog, the breeze shaking the still leafless tree limbs, and yes, actual music, Latin rhythms softly coming from the radio of the stranger with the cigar.

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You’ve experienced all of these individual sensations before, but somehow taken as a whole, all at once, it feels lovely and new. You can’t remember the last time your heart felt so light, but as your skin warms up, you feel part of yourself blossoming like the yellow flowers on the bushes by your office. The cold times have passed, and it feels like this is actually the proper start of the year, that enchanted time when everything feels possible.

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The world is coming alive around you, and it perks you up to no end.

(I hope you all are getting to enjoy nice weather too, where ever you are!
— Krys)

 

 

New England Nostalgia

I went to college (university, for you non-Americans) in a tiny town in northwestern Massachusetts called North Adams. It’s just about as far from Boston as you can get and still be in the state — many of the students came from upstate New York and the town is so close to the Vermont border that some of the faculty lived there.

My first semester of college my mom wanted to make the four hour trip to visit me on Columbus Weekend, since it was a long weekend for both of us, and when she couldn’t get a hotel room in the immediate area we found out about the phenomenon known as “leaf peeping.” Leaf peeping is a form of tourism where people travel to go look at the changed leaves in the autumn. On the East Coast, New England is a popular area for this, probably because the comparatively lower temperatures cause the trees to change earlier.

In most instances, I think travelling a long distance just to look at some trees is pretty silly. However, I never miss North Adams more than I do in the fall, and when you see the photos below maybe you’ll see why!

These are all photos that I took when I was in college (mostly even before I had my nice DSLR) — I haven’t been back in the fall since I graduated at the end of 2012.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(I remember that I liked this tree because it looks sort of like a paintbrush partially dipped in paint.)

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(A nearly leafless tree  with some kind of berries on it, taken from inside the library. It looks like a spring picture, but I swear it’s not, lol.)

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(This yellow tree was my favorite one on campus every year, and that’s why I’ve included two photos of it! When I picture fall in North Adams, this tree is usually the first thing I think of.)

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(A view of the quad.)

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Path in front of one of the main classroom buildings.)

 

IMG_3998(This picture is kind of crummy quality, because I took it through the window of an elevator lobby, but I fucking love the cloud clinging to those mountains.)

 

IMG_4164(The view from my dorm window my last, happiest semester of college. Those trees on the left were gorgeous study companions!)

 

IMG_4263(A friend wanted to take some cosplay photos down by the train tracks that we definitely weren’t supposed to be near, but that people hung out by / used as a shortcut for walking to Walmart anyway.)

 

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this little nostalgia trip into my photograph archives! I’ve taken so many photos and they’re mostly just rotting away inside my hard drive, so I think I’ll pull together little posts of old photos like this in the future.

How do you guys feel about fall?

Much love,
Krys