Cherry and I got off to a crisp start this morning, with temps in the sixties when we met at Perk on Main in Durham. We drove in tandem down to Route 80 and had planned to put a car at the southern end of today’s hike on Cindy Lane, but I missed the turn. Instead, we left Cherry’s car at the parking lot on Route 80 and drove together to Cindy Lane. “Do you have your keys?” I joked as Cherry left her car.

Yes, she did and we continued through the Guilford Lakes area down Maupas Road. The scenery was lovely, trees fully green and rich looking. Meanwhile, Cherry had already started telling me about her new beau and their first few dates. I was particularly intrigued with the duck eggs he left on her step earlier in the week. “Hard to match that,” I laughed.

Our maps were a bit spotty, so we double-checked with a woman walking her dogs and she shared that the Nut Plains Woods entrance on Cindy Lane was hard to spot and parking was on the road. Very glad she mentioned that, as it was almost impossible to spot the trailhead.

At 9:00AM, we entered Nut Plains Woods and turned right. I wondered out loud if we would be able to find the blue trail along the white blazed Guilford Land Trust parcel. We continued along for about fifteen minutes and, voila, there it was! I did a little happy dance and felt confident we would easily find Cherry’s car 4.7 miles ahead.

By then, we were talking about Cherry’s potential retirement and focus on her future. It wasn’t long before I’d started telling her about my recent dates and my hopes for their progress. The trail was lovely, fairly level, through deeply shaded paths. In a few sections, we crossed planks over what would be wet areas in the spring but were bone-dry after this dry summer.

We crossed Willow Road and continued along, sharing our plans for the coming weekend. Cherry described her efforts to balance her need for alone time with this blossoming relationship. We noted that, being older, sometimes it’s a challenge to fit new things into our lives.

Suddenly, Cherry stopped. “I left my keys in your car down on Cindy Lane.” Ooops. Out came the map and we decided to continue to North Madison Road and walk back along the roads. That way, we would have covered the southern part of this section of the trail and could easily park on North Madison and head north to Route 80 on our next outing. And also we could spot where the trail crossed North Madison, so we could find it next time.

Before long, we were on North Madison and walking back to my car. By then, the sun was higher and it was warmer and definitely sunnier along the roads. Our conversation drifted to my ecotherapy work and recent progress with that. By the time we reached my car and drove back to Route 80 where Cherry was parked, she had given me some new ideas and leads on potential directions. We ended our trip after two hours and covered an additional 1.5 miles of the Menunkatuck Trail. Cherry was apologetic about our switch in plans due to forgetting her keys. I assured her suggestions wouldn’t have happened if we had stayed on our original plan and that was worth plenty. We look forward to returning next month for our missing section.

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