There’s nothing like a long walk to sort things out and help you forget about the madness in the world. Last week New Hampshire received a few inches of heavy, wet snow. Once walked upon, slushy snow becomes a clutter of footprints. Let it freeze and that snow becomes a crunchy, treacherous mine field. And such was the state of the Windham Rail Trail on my Sunday walk. Micro spikes over hiking boots answered most of the challenge, and a little care on where you stepped solved the rest. A long walk alone became crunchy meditation, with a good workout as a bonus.
About three miles into the walk I came across a column of deer tracks crossing perpendicular to the rail trail. Nothing surprising in that; this is deer country here in Southern New Hampshire after all. But I found the tracks fascinating anyway. The deer walked in a line like Native American warriors or Roger’s Rangers would have done when this area was contested frontier. In the case of warriors and rangers it masks the numbers from the adversary. I wondered if the deer instinctively mask their numbers or just follow the leader to minimize the calorie burn of moving through snow. The latter makes sense, doesn’t it? In winter where calories equal survival efficiency in movement means everything.
For me the goal was just the opposite of the deer: burn as many calories as possible in two hours of walking and be outdoors as an active participant in winter. Mix in a visually interesting trek on rough terrain and this afternoon’s 10,000 (+!) steps scored a high bliss rating. And who doesn’t need more bliss in the short, dark days of January?