Saturday, May 10, 2008

Break My Day

If you can't travel to the Smoky Mountain National Park and trek on up to the Appalachian Trail, you can experience life on the AT vicariously by absorbing yourself in a copy of Bill Bryson's true story, A Walk in the Woods. This was a best seller for a few years. I was told during my visit on the AT in April that the number of thru-hike starters is down to its normal numbers. According to a worker with the trail alliance, this is a relief since many readers would attempt to hike the trail without proper preparation or an understanding of the "leave-no-trace" ethic.

Shortly after I returned to Toledo I took an 8 mile walk with this playful group, the Swan Creek Day Breakers. They meet nearly every morning of the year at 6:45 AM. They walk 4 or 5 miles together even on super-cold mornings when all they can see of each other is a nose and two eyes. They see the seasons change, study birds and flowers, and meet and greet others on the trail. They have semi-annual potlucks and celebrate each others birthdays. In the winter, these day-breakers get to walk in the light of the lingering moon.

The Day Breakers were enthusiastically telling me stories about experiences they have shared on walks in "their" park. Swan Creek Metropark has become such a part of their lives for the last 13 years that they refer to it as "my" or "our" park. A few times a year they travel to other parks. I met with them at Oak Openings Preserve. I was the youngster, their ages ranging from 65 to 80. You know, they didn't even notice when it started to rain. They mindlessly adjusted their hoods and jackets while they continued with their happy banter and gentle tread.

You can sit in your easy chair and travel vicariously all you want, or you can get up early and make your day with the Day Breakers. They made mine!

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