Lure of the Trail

It’s hard to believe I’ve been here in this idyllic place of vast trees and vaster water bodies for eight weeks. Harder to believe my summer adventure is coming to an end, but it is — I’ve already purchased my ticket back to the treeless, waterless desert.

Hardest of all to fathom what I experienced.

I have seen ponds, lakes, lagoons, bays, brooks, creeks, rivers, and especially the ocean. I have seen tiny Douglas fir seedlings and gargantuan coastal redwoods. I have tramped more than a hundred miles through various forest terrains, and almost as many miles along the ocean shores.

I’ve meandered through some of the creepiest places on earth — dark forests with gargoyle-like tree trunks, mouldering stumps of long-dead trees, and moss hanging from blackened branches like the wispy green ghosts reaching out from the centuries.

I’ve wandered through cathedral-like groves of redwoods, the sun shining through the canopy like stained glass.

I’ve traversed ghost highways and long-forgotten logging roads, and though these were not “est” trails — not the longest, shortest, showiest, hardest, or easiest and the trees weren’t the tallest, oldest, biggest — these were some of my favorite hikes. Just pleasant strolls in the woods.

And through it all — dog bite, spained calf muscle, bruises, aching feet, sore muscles, and mosquito bites galore — I never lost the lure of the trail.

This summer adventure might be over, but there are other days, other places, other trails.

And so the adventure continues.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

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(The heart is a shell fragment I found on the beach yesterday. Maybe the ocean was telling me it hearts me.)