…and that has made all the difference. The unexpected path.

No, I am not going to start by going there.

Yesterday, I took my tent and decided to see what it’s like to unplug for a bit. I have to say it was a bit of relief not to worry about cell phones or social media or anything else for a few hours. I do find it kind of interesting that one of the best ways to recharge is to actually unplug and not worry about charging. How much of our time do we spend worrying how much charge we have left in our phones, laptops and devices? Now, I’m not one of those people who decry how technology is ruining us. The benefits of connectedness far outweigh the complications, but sometimes it is good to turn down the volume and unplug.

On to the adventure, I’ve decided recently to track the amount I’m walking per day, thanks to my new Apple Watch, I guess that’s another benefit of technology, that playing with new toys motivates me. Looking over the park map, I selected the longest of the “normal” difficulty trails, an easy, flat, 3 and half mile wooded loop, and set off on my journey, camera in tow.

The woods of Ouabache are made of hard woods interspersed with pines planted when the park was a CCC camp in the 30’s. Starting off in a shaded pine grove with a high ceiling of interwoven boughs and carpet of long pine needles, the path wound along undergrowth of mayapples, daisies and forest flowers. It was a refreshing walk with the smell of pine and that sweet detritus scent that rises every summer. Eventually, probably thirty minutes into my hike, the path divided and that’s when I went there.

….and I took the road less travelled by…and that has made all the difference.

I truly did not intend on taking the road less traveled, the sign post at the split was either turned incorrectly, or I simply misread it. (which I doubt, always trust the JPS) Continuing down what I thought the right path I pressed on into a hardwood grove with a completely different decor, and sensory experience, a low wet land punctuated with cat tails and the sweet acrid scent of swampy mud and the music of bull frogs and spring peepers filling the air. The hike started feeling a little long and I checked my watch and found I had covered a little over four and half miles.

Checking the map and doing some quick calculations, I gathered that instead of being on the 3 mile baby trail, I was on the 8 mile moderated trail. Now math isn’t my strong point, but I knew if I had traveled 4 and half miles, it would be 9 miles if I turned and went back, so I decided to press on. Little did I know, the last 4 miles would be up hill!

I pressed on, my feet and knees gradually complaining more and more with each step, but did feel a genuine sense of accomplishment when I emerged from the brush, checked my watch, and finding that I had covered nearly 9 miles.

I guess I took the road less traveled, and that made all the difference. As in this grief journey, we sometimes end up on the paths we don’t choose, or the paths that we choose accidentally, and I guess at some point, we have to decide if it worth pushing through or turning back. I never really been a road less traveled person truly, I tend to go with the flow of the herd down the well worn paths. This time, though, I’ve ended up on the road less traveled and though my feet and knees hurt sometimes, the journey seems worth taking.

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