The Last Hike
Every journey has to run its course. The peaks met, the miles logged. If it wasn’t for the that pinnacle moment of a hike would we even ever do the hike? Otherwise we are just walking in circles, or on a treadmill. I am a completionist at heart. So for me, it was time for that last hike.
I love to read but I never read the last word few words of book. I don’t know why I do this. Perhaps it is to keep the story going on forever in my mind. That is a little bit of how I am with hiking. Not with individual hikes but with parks. For those of you who have read this blog a lot you know that Staunton State Park is one of my favorite places in the world. I had been on almost every hiking trail in the park. Almost. Only one had eluded me. Not because it was challenging or because it was out of the way, I have passed the trail several times. I just didn’t do it.
The trail is the West Meadow. A long hike from the Meadow Parking lot but with the new Lazy V parking lot it takes about 3 miles off of the hike. So it was time. Time to finish the park.
The Familiar Trail
The hike started normal. It was my first time in the new parking lot and it dumps directly onto Scout Line Trail. Scout Line is one of my favorites. It is hiker only, not too crowded and a good challenge. Scout Line also has my favorite overlook in the park. It isn’t an official overlook and it has no name. I have dubbed it, “Fatman’s Point”.
When I made it to “Fatman’s Point” I sat on the fallen tree like I had before. This time I sat just a few moments longer. I took in the crystal blue sky. For the first time, I really noticed a tree clinging to a rock that I had seen twenty times before. I smelled the air. This was special.
Continuing on the trail takes you to Marmot Passage. Marmot passage is deep in the woods and always has more snow than anywhere else in the park. Today was no different. The snow cushioned my feet with each step. The snow almost shimmered in the bits of light that made it through the canopy of trees. It was welcoming in its frigid stare.
Next up was the pond with the ranger cabin. Is there anywhere you would rather be in the world than a small cabin with its own pond on crisp and sunny winter day. Now it was time. Time to finish the journey.
The West Meadow
I left the pond and headed up the lions back. Oh that’s not poetic, the name of the trail is Lions Back. I made it to the top of the of the back, past all of the bare aspen trees, to a junction. Straight to Lions Head, left to the Falls Overlook, and right to the only trail I hadn’t finished.
The end of journey doesn’t happen all at once. Especially not on a loop trail. I took my first step towards the meadow. My pack wasn’t full but I felt the weight on my shoulders. This was it. The Meadow was beautiful. It alternated by shaded snow or sun kissed dirt trails.
As I made my way around the two mile track, I was sure to take it all in. Then the West Meadow tried to hold me a little longer. The last half mile was a narrow pass halfway up a steep hill. Snow reached almost to my knees and the trail wasn’t really broken. This last half mile was tough. Each step the snow held onto my foot, trying to keep me in place. The same snow then hiding the solid ground for my foot to land.
If the journey has to end it should end like this. A challenge that needs all of the lessons learned along the way to finish. Lessons like, bring snow shoes you idiot. I guess I didn’t pass all the tests but I passed the final one. I finished the West Meadow and with that Staunton State Park.
The walk back was quiet. The snow at the park had limited the people who made it out this far. The accomplishments danced through my head along with a sadness that comes when I read those last few words in a book. The knowledge that its over. Knowing that there is not one more page to turn. The fact that the story has come to an en….wait a minute. What the heck is that?
On my way back I saw a brand new trail marker. One I hadn’t seen before. It must have gone in with new parking lot! My journey isn’t over, it is just taking another path! There is always another trail to hike. Another tree to pass or stream to cross. Even when you think you are finished, the outdoors have another plan for the journey. And for me a few more steps until I finish my next story.
Bit of a Break
While West Meadow turned out to not be my last hike, it will be my last hike for a little bit. That is why I took those extra moments to remember all of the little things. I finally have a chance to get my much awaited shoulder surgery so will be taking a bit of time away from the trails. I have held back some hikes, product reviews, and interviews so I can keep giving you some content and live vicariously through my own posts while I toil away at recovery. I’ll still be here.
If you want to make a fella happy after surgery make sure to keep checking out Fatmanlittletrail. I recommend reading all of my Fatman’s Ramblings at least once a week. Make sure to follow along on my social media channels as well! Until I see you on the trail again, Happy Hiking!