I heard some noise early (for me) and was out of bed and downstairs around 9:30. With rain on the way Helaine and I took the opportunity to head to Sleeping Giant Mountain.
There’s no charge for weekend parking this time of year. The word hasn’t gotten out as there was a line of cars parked along Mount Carmel Avenue across from the Quinnipiac University campus.
The trees are going bare. The change from full color to bare branches happens quickly–a few weeks at best. It’s an interesting transition–slightly different for each species of tree and then each individual tree within that species based on location and neighbors. Most lose their leaves fully, though some trees will sadly hold their dead and shriveled foliage all winter.
“It’s like walking through a minefield,” Helaine said. She was cautiously looking down as we worked our way up.
The trail is covered in leaf litter which means the toaster sized rocks that poke a few inches above the surface were mainly hidden. Catch one of those rocks with your foot while in mid-stride and you’re on your way down! Helaine and I have both taken headers this season even though the rocks were easily seen. Helaine was really cut-up and is justifiably skittish.
After seven months of up-and-down. parts of the trail looks different enough that I don’t know where I am! What a strange feeling to be somewhere you’ve been dozens of times and see nothing familiar. All of a sudden there are vistas where there were trees.
Last night’s rain left the leaves wet and slippery. Every once in a while I’d step but not plant firmly–like a car tire spinning on gravel. Our trip to the top was a full minute slower than our recent ‘goal’.
OK–it’s my goal, not Helaine’s. She looks at me when I click my watch like I’m some sort of alien. I like the competitive feel of knowing my time and having a reason to maintain a faster pace.
For the first time in my life I have become very conscious of a natural place and how it changes with its environment. The trail now reacts differently to water and wind. Less rain is needed for larger and longer lasting puddles. It’s becoming more obvious we won’t be able to walk it all winter–maybe not even on the unseasonably warm days.
That’s sad. No piece of equipment will replace our walks. It’s a full hour alone with Helaine in a place of spectacular beauty. I like that.
It’s another reason to hate winter.