I spent a couple of hours this morning reading the Sentimental entries by other geneabloggers and they were great reads- a little bit different from some of the drier entries about genealogy and family history. They seem to focus more on intimate memories of persons and events. As I read, I kept looking in the back of my mind for some of the events in my life which are sentimental to me. The thought of hiking came to mind- actually of the time when I might have first fallen in love with hiking. I had to dig way back into both my memory and my photo albums. And I came up with the following image of some of the neighborhood kids and I hiking in the big woods near our homes in suburban Maryland. It was 1954, over fifty years ago. In the picture, we are hiking along a nearly dry creek bed. It was in the scattered puddles, that we crept up on frogs, salamanders, box turtles, and captured them for a closer look. I remember one time collecting at least 20 turtles which we took home and started a little zoo- until our parents made us release the reptiles back into the woods. That was when I first fell in love with the natural out-of-doors. However, I get sort or sad when I look at this photo, because the opportunity for this particular hike is no longer possible. A wide swath of the woods was paved over for the Beltway (I-495) of Metropolitan Washington, DC. More land was taken over for apartments and condominiums.
Hiking! I love it. I was born to hike. But the overall sentiment about this life-long love, is that it may be a thing of the past- no longer possible for me. For y'see, I have to walk with a cane now. My hiking legs have become so weak. And this is difficult to write about. I have been taking anti-androgen hormones for about 5 years now to suppress the proliferation of prostate cancer cells. Testosterone is a great hormone, but the lack of it means wasted muscle tissue and its replacement by fat cells. I sometimes wonder when the time will come when I advance from hobbling on a cane to a wheel chair. But even then I believe that some adjustments can be made so that I can still "go hiking" in my beloved woods.
This summer, I was camping in the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia at a place called White Rocks primitive campground. On the way to the campsites, I passed a short trail named Cherokee Flats. I pulled into the parking area and took a short walk- with my cane. The trail was quite flat and paved for most of its distance. The trail passed through a pristine forest among Rhododendrons, still showing the last blooms of late summer. The trail ended too quickly at Stony Brook creek, but long enough to experience THE HIKE.Image: Walking slowly through the Cherokee Flats trail in Jefferson National Forest, VA