In neither meaning of the phrase am I out of the woods yet. I’m still hiking in the forests and mountains. Today I hiked to the attractively name Rainbow Lakes in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
But I am also not out of the woods when it comes to my painful left shoulder. I thought that I was until yesterday evening when I put on my new backpack loaded with my new tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. I planned to take a trial run with it today to Rainbow Lakes. But my shoulder hurt too much last night for that.
In the event I did hike to those lakes, but with my fanny pack.
I kept scaling back my plans for the day. Anxious to get back to backpacking, I originally planned to go out today and tomorrow on a longer hike in another part of the wilderness.
Then I realized that it would make more sense to start slow, and just go out overnight on a short hike.
Then I thought that I would just go out for the day, but carry all my equipment and pitch my tent at the end of the trail for practice. I’m glad that I became more realistic.
I may not backpack at all this season while my shoulder heals, except, as I still hope, to go car camping and maybe take my pack a half mile or so from my vehicle.
I’m especially glad that I didn’t go out overnight this weekend. I would have been miserable. A storm front came in yesterday evening. I got caught in it at the beginning when I went out for the mail and came back in a shower of large hailstones. Then we got quite a bit of rain overnight, making the trails wet and the weather quite cold in the mountains at 10,000 feet where the trail to Rainbow Lakes starts. Heavy wind, particularly around the lakes, intensified the cold.
However, the day was better than I had hoped. I had no pain in my shoulder all day. And the sun broke through the clouds just as I set out from the trailhead and stayed out until I returned three hours later.
This trail goes to 10 lakes and ponds, according to one of my hiking books. The lowest and the highest were the most beautiful.
The trail winds through delightful forest with lovely views of the lakes and mountains. But it’s difficult. Not only is it rocky much of the way, but it is often unmarked and not at all clear where to go. A couple of times I had to wander around for several minutes to find it again. I wished that my GPS receiver were already operational!
But it gave me true solitude today. No cars were parked at the trailhead either when I left or returned three hours later. Even though I am not out of the woods yet, I am glad that I don’t have to live in them.
Writing this reminds me of an unforgettable book that I real a few years ago about a man like me who craved solitude, but acted on it to live in the woods – for a while. The book by Wallace Kaufman is Coming Out of the Woods: The Solitary Life of a Maverick Naturalist. After reading this book, I have been glad to take my solitude in small doses.