Hiking: the activity of going for long walks, especially in the country or woods.
Based on this definition, hiking is to a degree, defined by the longevity of a walk in the woods, and when it comes to trails, there are three factors that qualify my opinion: 1) distance and duration 2) incline and 3) remoteness.
A scenic route, of course is a major plus, although, the two are not mutually exclusive. A walk in the park can be scenic, but I do not consider a hike to be a walk in the park. It is impossible to walk a stroller on a legitimate hiking trail.
For these reasons, I was particularly pleased by the trails at Sawnee Mountain in Cumming, Ga. The five-mile inclined path provided a welcomed outdoor exertion, and my boyfriend, Ty, and I extended the occasion by taking the Church Loop detour, adding an extra 1.2 miles round trip.
It’s no wonder the Romantic poets were so inspired by the woods. The woods draw out your inner orator while repressing the need to speak over a crowd. Only the birds and the wind are speaking.
Silently, we march on the trail, my thoughts tracing my surroundings to unlock some hidden meaning. But there is none. It is a blank canvas for my imaginative vices.
The incline grows steeper; I am tethered to the present by exertion. But as I control my breathing, my thoughts wander, chasing a Dryad muse in spring attire.
Dancing on springtime breezes
She grows and goes just as she pleases
Dapper as Solomon in all his caliber
Her royal robes are painted lavender
Queen of groupies in the flower realm
she rules the weeds with a golden helm
But like a kite, she’s gone with the wind
Living for the day her only sin.
As all free spirits, she’ll live and die
Beneath the stars and bluest skies.
Clothed in scarlet
Should reckless hands
Do reckless deeds
And pluck you
From your crimson bed
Who’d have said
you asked for it?
We ate nothing but blackberries that summer
harvested from the neighborhood park.
We stayed out late, well after supper
and drinking Four Locos
when it was dark.
Our friendship was a pure white petal
but there were matters we could not settle.
And when bloody fruit
burdened our boughs
our petals broke and fell apart.
Venus landed on a wooded plane
To punish and ensnare all
who owed a sum of money
to the Queen of Olympus.
And her crimson handmaiden is here too
Placing bets and playing cards
With the squirrel, the rabbit and the Queen of Hearts.
My hope is a rope to hoist me up the mountain.
It sustains me, and I think of all I could be.
When the sun sets it will be a noose.
A sign of hope and salvation
appears between the patchwork of branches.
My fear is my hope,
my desire a compass
I retreat into the inky darkness.
We pioneered the eastern shore
Where a fallen log stood proud in days of yore
Stripped of bark and grace and dignity
It struck me as mammoth tusks of ivory.
The core was smooth and ready for chopping
in a littered pond it lay now rotting.
If the pond were a larger, saltier body
The pale tree might be
a yellow beluga whale
spotted as we sail
chartered waters on a plastic sea.
A Tower called Babble
Once there was a pile of ants
That decided to make themselves a town
And so they convened and decided to build
A tower taller than the tallest hill
Their strongest soldiers were recruited for the job
Two thousand lives were lost to the cause
And when at last they had succeeded
There was a town hall to decide what to name it
For the nearby creek that so loudly chattered
They all agreed to call the tower Babble.
That night they gathered to take a moment
To celebrate the ant town’s greatest triumph
They thought the tower would last a millennium
But that town of ants soon had a rebellion
When the Queen of ants fell for a lowly worker
The throne was usurped by an evil sorcerer
who cursed the town and their great fortress.
And so remains in a distant forest
a pile of rocks the ants called Babble.
For me, the forest is a call for art. In awe of my surroundings, I cannot help but become introspective and consider how I might channel that inspiration.
For this reason, I am not a zealous hiker, although I do prefer lengthy hikes that provide a sense of adventure and, particularly ironic for this time, isolation.
Although the parking lot of Sawnee Mountain was rather crowded with other quarantined hikers, Ty and I quickly lost them as we reached the mountain’s foot. This was rather fortunate, as the bathrooms were closed “until further notice” due to the pandemic, and so once we were enfolded in the foliage, I took the opportunity to mark my territory. But is it even a hike if you don’t have to do that at least once? I think not.