Hike - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
The forest path is wide and civilized. The city has used our taxes to lay wood-chips and place garbage bins along the route. The trees are so separated by this swathe they have cut that I still need my sunglasses. The brilliant rays are not dappled but shine hotly from above as strong as at any beach without the benefit of a cooling onshore breeze. But all that will change in twenty minutes, then the noble efforts of the bureaucrats will end and the forest will reassert itself. The path will twist, snaking around the ancient trees. The roots will criss-cross, gnarled and uneven- as beautiful as any picture book illustration. I will take in the colours with unshielded eyes and use my hands where the path rises in steep, uneven rocky steps. I have a map of this place carefully stored in my head. My boots have trodden these paths so often that the soles are wearing thin, but I cannot tire of this place, this forest. I may live in a tower of concrete but my heart will always live here.
In the forest the sky vanishes almost completely, only a few fragments of blue remain- like scattered pieces of an impossible jigsaw puzzle. The air is rich with the fragrance of leaves and loam, damp too. Even so many hours after the rains have passed, the soil remains wet, slowly releasing its heady fog. Outside is the noon daylight, the powerful rays of early summer, but in here everything is cool and the colours have the softness of that time just before twilight. The only movement is the occasional bird, startling in a trees or a squirrel dashing up a nearby trunk. The sound of running water in the brook has the same hypnotic quality as music, I want to stop just to drink in the sound. The huckleberries are mostly red, tart but with just the right amount of sweetness. I take in all the air my lungs will hold and expel it slowly. These hikes in the forest are like a trip out of my life, a visit to somewhere the measuring of time is done only by the rising and setting of the sun.
The trees grow so thickly that there is no undergrowth at all. About our feet are only the browned remnants of branches and needles that have fallen in the recent high winds. If there is a path here I can't see it, so instead I wend my way through the skinny trunks that grew so tall, racing for their share of the sun's rays. In places they are so thickly clumped that I must alter my path or risk my backpack becoming wedged. The air has that smell of woodland before rain, perhaps above the canopy there are clouds fit to burst. It is dark for this time of day, so perhaps soon the filtered light will be accompanied by water droplets.
“Are we there yet?” asked Stephanie, panting. We hadn't walked for more than an hour yet and we still had a two-hour hike ahead of us. Our little hike was almost a walk in the park, since the children were aged between 8 and 12 we could not choose a trail too long or too technical. We started our walk by following a footpath through the woods which would lead us to a wide earthen trail going higher up in the mountain.
The ground was smooth under our shoes, the light of the sun filtered by the tree foliage on each side of the trail. It was in the first week of August, and it was one of those summers when the temperature never really became unbearably hot. “Are we there yet?” asked Stephanie again, puffing. We finally reached a clearing set up as a picnic area, with wooden tables and benches. That was the ideal place to take a break and rest. One end of the clearing was actually a headland over a small valley opening up below. "Are we there yet?" asked Stephanie smiling at me.
After the heat and itchiness of the hike the lake looked like a basin of balm. Its water was entirely without motion, no tide brought it up the man-made beach. Despite the relentless sunrays the green-tinged water would be cool, this basin would likely be as deep as the mountains around were tall. Like the ocean, such a large volume heats and cools slower than the land or the air. Lila walked to the edge and sat to remove her boots, but she didn't stop there. In just a few seconds she was skinny dipping and she didn't care who saw. The cool water moved over her skin like a potion, removing the irritation and replacing it with a meditative peace.
Looking through the waters of the lake was like peering though perfect glass, unsmudged by the sticky prints of small children. The stones at the bottom were as many hues of brown and grey as there are on a painter's wheel, likely more. After a few minutes of looking Lila could notice some that were some more reddish or closer to white. The water at the point she stood had a current, it was where the glacial melt water entered from the mountain peak that stood still white capped behind her. The earthen path stretched wide to her left and right making a complete loop around the edge just behind the trees that grew directly on the bank. It didn't matter which way she turned, so she chose to walk with the sun at her back on the way out.
On the city streets I am a walking wallet, a consumer, a citizen. There are rules of conduct any which way you go. I must cross the street at the lights on command, I must wait in line-ups in the stores and be courteous. But here in nature I am just another organism, another animal, albeit one with fancy clothes and a cell phone in my pocket. There's something liberating in that. If I want to I can shout my lungs out, there is not a soul to cast a disapproving glance or whisper doubts as to my sanity. I can run, walk or turn cartwheels. I can hike for an hour or an entire day. So long as I pack my bag with enough food I needn't return until sundown. I'm not really a camper, I like a nice soft bed, but perhaps the urge to keep on walking will get the better of me one day and I'll need a tent. We'll see...
The bird on the branch moved its head from side to side like it was clockwork, like there was a switch in its brain that flicked to choose the direction to look but not the speed of the motion. Every turn was rapid, almost too fast to see. But in the moments it was still Edna could see the glossy black eyes set in the plumage of an impossibly bright blue. It was the kind of blue that belonged on an artist's palate, yet better than that, it was so brilliant as to almost look like a source of light rather than a reflection of the sun's rays. The bird was small too, no bigger than a navel orange but far from round. It was shaped like an English robin, with the wide breast, but the tail feathers and wings elongated the body, giving it an elegance. It had a short beak, but curved and strong like a wolf claw. After singing a few notes it spread it's wings and in a flurry of blue it ascended to the tree tops and out of view. Edna sighed, "To be a bird," she thought, "how nice that would be." She retrained her eyes to the woodland path ahead, no longer were there the leaves of autumn, but the weather was not yet cold and the path was riddled with puddles and sloppy mud. The hike was just beginning...
Jeanie stopped. The path ahead was suddenly alive with the hopping of small brown frogs no bigger than a dollar. She grinned. Ordinarily she wouldn't have a chance of catching one but there were dozens of them, how could she miss? She crouched down and as she scooped one up she felt it lie cold against her skin. "Funny," she thought, she hadn't considered herself to be particularly warm but to this frog's cool and delicate skin she must feel like she had a furnace inside of her. She opened her hand gently, allowing the late spring sunshine to fall on the earthy creature that lay captured in her fingers. She felt a frisson of awe to see its eyes, sticking up and glossy like any story book prince-to-be. It's legs were hunched, ready to leap. When it hopped she let out a squeal, though she knew the frog would she was still startled when it did. She watched it go, hopping frantically for the plant cover at the sides of the path. Then she took a step forwards, watching, hoping to repeat the experience.
Hiking in British Columbia, azure sky, faint wisps of stratus cloud, morning breeze, summer sun, gentle heat, rocky, dusty trail up mountainside, blackberry and huckleberry bushes line the path, sweet, tart, pine treed slopes over brown, barren forrest floor, calm, relaxed, scent of pine needles, daydream, hear twig snapping, rustle of bushes, suddenly black bear next to trail, curious, up on hind legs, peering, heat races, dog barks, put dog on leash, back off slowly, hope there are no cubs around, drag barking dog, avert gaze, walk back down path, thumping chest, fear, anxiety, check behind, not following, heart rate slows, calm returning, warn oncoming hikers, keep dog on leash.
Steady light rain, fitful winter sun, toque starting out repelling the rain, later dripping, gravel and mud trail weaving through wooded river edge, roar of rushing, ever-flowing water, white over the rocks, walking over small wooden bridges, streams gurgling below meet the slower flowing shallow edges of the river. A pair of joggers overtake, a man with an old labrador goes in the opposite direction. Cold lips, hand chilled through red woollen mittens, walking around the edges of large shallow puddles that almost take up the whole width of the path, legs damp from rain, slowly soaking through jeans, rain falls heavier, frigid water runs down the side of my face from the toque, path comes out at a road, car tires hiss through water, wipers beat away the wintery squall.
The wolf looked like, Lola, my neighbour's husky-cross. I bet she'd be the same to touch, warm and soft. She lay there in the sunshine, eyes closed, blissful, listening to the music of the skies as much as anybody loves song and rhythm. There was something so right about her being there, as if nature craved her presence as much as she loved the sun-rays.