Life Lessons from the Physical World

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Late for Blueberries

Sometimes you just walk in the woods for the sake of doing something physical, or listening for birdsong you can identify, or noticing the changing foliage as the summer goes from fresh to dog-days, finding that in fact some changing leaves have already left the trees and landed on the trail. Other times, you hike for a purpose, like a breathtaking view, or some ripe wild berries. You have a particular destination in mind.

You can pick up the AT at a hidden trailhead about 6 miles from Jim Thorpe PA. If blueberries aren't the goal, and you're not turned on by birdsong, there are certainly more picturesque vistas along the PA section of the AT. (Try Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle itself; the trailhead's in Hamburg just off the Kempton exit from Route 78.) But at this secret spot, there's a little parking lot, and the trail climbs pretty steeply for the first mile and a half. When the blueberries are ripe, this is a lovely hike because you hardly notice the rise as you anticipate the sweet snacking you'll enjoy after about an hour of trudging. It's mostly under cover in the woods, with occasional clearings that provide a bit of a view and some fresh air, but on this late July day it stayed pretty stinking hot until the trail flattened out at the top. Then, thankfully, a nice breeze did help evaporate the sweat and melted sunscreen off my arms and chest.

We came too late for blueberries this year. That second week in July has been the peak in the past, and we keep it on our calendars, but this year it was always something—there just didn't seem to be any time. So we hiked all that way with minimal hope, and found what we expected: the familiar low green shrubs, with shriveled brown bunches that should have been plump and blue. The sun had burnt the ones the bears had missed. A few loner berries hung on in shady spots, but even those had mostly been sucked small by bees and heat.

So the hike up Blue Mountain this July was more of the just-walking kind of hike. There was a bright blue Indigo Bunting singing away in a tulip poplar, and we heard several others, with their distinctive "fire fire where where here here" call. And we did get a nice little nap in the shade on a grassy overlook.

But this time we just took a long walk, with no particular destination or plan or commitment. Bittersweet, but lovely nonetheless.


Post a Comment

<< Home