First Hike of 2018

Sign marking the trailhead

Sign marking the trailheadThe light seeping in around the closed slats of the window blinds tells me dawn can’t be too far off, while the hiss of the warm air being forced through the vents tells me it’s cold outside. One thing I have come to hate about urban living is being cut off from the natural world around me. When I am in the backcountry, I am so much more aware of the natural world around me and its rhythms, but I am at my home base at the moment. A sealed building, cut off from the world outside is home; well, the tiny room I keep is technically home base. Don’t get me wrong, I like things like heat, hot water, and the like, but I always find myself longing to be out there, somewhere, exploring the world.

Rolling over I grab my phone and check the weather. I plan on going for a hike today, but it is only 22F outside, so I decide to get a bit more sleep before getting up and facing the cold.

“I want to be at the trailhead at 9 AM,” I think to myself. “That should be a good time to get started and a bit warmer too.”

As often happens when putting something off, I find myself leaving the house at 9 AM instead of at the trailhead. Oh well, it’s not like I have a schedule today or anything, so what’s 30-minutes?

Trail route

It rained all day yesterday, so that limits my options for the trails I can do. The trail I would rather do doesn’t like people to use it when wet; well, not the trail itself mind you, the group who maintains the trail. With that thought in mind, I head to my backup trail, Weston Bend Bluffs trail. With part of the trail gravel and the other part paved, it is not a bad trail for after a day of rain. Not having hiked since November, it is also an easy trail.

For as long as I live in the Midwest, I’ll never understand why people can’t drive. It rained all day yesterday, it was below freezing last night, and at 9 AM, it is only 27, so yes, there’s going to be ice out there people!

I stop at the local convenience store to grab a croissant and coffee before hitting the highway. Within the first mile on the interstate, I see a car slid off the road and in the ditch. Coming out of the first interchange, another accident, this time 3 or 4 cars decided to have a get-together. Passing through the next interchange, yet another accident. A few more miles up the highway, more cars having a get-together, but this time on the other side. The one common element in all these get-togethers, other than cars mind you, are bridges. Anyone who has ever dealt with wintry conditions knows bridges ice up first and are the last to de-ice. Sigh, my 15-minute drive turned into 30.

I pull into the trailhead parking lot at 9:28 AM. It’s empty, but then it’s a Monday morning. A quick check of the current temperature says it’s a nice balmy 29 out there. Considering that we’ve been below zero lately, it feels like a heat wave. Once I get moving, I should be fine.

Image from the Westen Bend trail

I had the trail all to myself; well, except for some birds. I didn’t see another soul until almost into town. Typically, I like to hike to town, have breakfast at the Weston Café and then hike back to the car. All that walking somehow makes me feel less guilty about having a big breakfast.

Given that I haven’t been hiking since early November, I still managed to set a nice 17:30 per mile pace (although I am feeling it today). Even in top form last year I could only manage a 16-minute per mile pace, so I’m not too far off the mark. At 52, I’ll take it.

On another note; don’t buy a phone based off of some review of its camera. I bought a Google Pixel phone and as you can see from the crappy image, it suffers horrid lens flare. I hope they fixed this problem with the Pixel 2


About Gerard Saint-Pierre

I'm a long-distance hiker, writer, photographer, environmentalist, & digital nomad. I'm thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail NOBO starting in March to help raise awareness about mental health. Come and follow along as I blog about the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of a thru-hike while battling depression and PTSD.

View all posts by Gerard Saint-Pierre →

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