It was in the forties when Cherry and I met and rode tandem to park my car on North Madison Road and then park at the Route 80 lot. The sun was strong, the air crisp, and a tint of color marked the maples. By nine o’clock, we were on the trail, with 2.2 miles ahead.

With its clear markings, we had no difficulty hiking this section known as the Timberlands. We continued a conversation that had begun in the car about relationships and whether to pursue them. “I tend to fall in love with people, all kinds of people, men and women,” Cherry explained. “I just love them. And I am attracted to what certain men do.” I told her I understood what she meant. She went on to clarify that it didn’t mean they would be appropriate partners. In fact, she wasn’t certain she wanted a partner. She was feeling so connected to her home community and didn’t want to lose that.

About an hour after starting, we found ourselves along the shore of Upper Guilford Lakes. The multiple shades of green and juxtaposition of water, sky, and vegetation was breath taking. We decided to sit on the bank and enjoy the view for a few minutes. I shared some of my recent experiences including time with some mutual friends at the Durham Fair, music at Pipes in the Valley in Hartford, the Last Green Festival in Brooklyn, and cold leads and hot starts with relationships.

A short distance away, we came to the Lake’s feeder stream, merrily gurgling along, cascading over rocks under a canopy of green. We were mesmerized by the sounds and scene. Cherry gushed over the view (anyone who knows Cherry understands what I mean) and again we paused to enjoy before continuing along.

Along the way, we noticed attractive cairns marking trail junctions, some of which resembled small fairy houses. We were nearing the end when I spotted a garter snake sunning on the trail. Cherry, afraid, hung back, while I shooed it safely into the brush and stood between it and the trail, so Cherry could pass.

The last section passed through forested wetlands with short boardwalk sections that again engaged the senses. “This is the loveliest hike we’ve done so far,” Cherry said.

And I had to agree with her.

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We are starting a new blue-blazed trail, the Menunkatuck! After brief confusion about the meeting place (thank goodness for cell phones), Cherry and I parked her car at the end of our planned hike on Route 77 in Guilford, and then drove to our starting point on Race Hill Road. Here was another glitch – the road didn’t go east as indicated on the map. Fortunately, the area was well posted, indicating only a half-mile walk to the trailhead, so I left my car under the sheltering arms of low-hanging tree. We got started around nine o’clock and the weather was overcast and in the sixties, which felt perfect.

Along we went until, after about fifteen minutes, I started to get antsy. I thought we’d gone a mile and had seen no indication of the blue blazed Menunkatuck Trail. We hoped this would not be a repeat of our disappointment in the trails at Cockaponset. Just about ready to give up, I checked the map contours, walked a few more steps, and voila! Blue blazes! And a nice sign indicating it was 3.2 miles to the junction with our former friend, the Mattabesset Trail.

So, we were off. Most of the area was forested, with scattered rocks and boulders. We followed the woods road until we began twisting and climbing up rocky formations. We never did get a good vista, but it was beautiful.

As usual, we talked about relationships. Or rather Cherry did, because I had nothing to report on that front. I did however have a lot to report about other ventures. The online course I was taking was off to a slow start. I’d begun offering a series of ecotherapy workshops, which was going well. I was trying to finish up a sequel to my first novel and that was stuck, again, although I had added another 10,000 words this month.

Cherry talked about her work and desire to retire in some reasonable amount of time. I interjected I’d been trying hard to understand why I was so overextended when I had no full-time position. We came to a rock cairn, one rock carefully placed atop the next, perfectly balanced. But for us, balancing work and pleasure was always a challenge. Can we trust our inner voices to guide us to the next right thing?

I shared an idea I had recently heard, which I have since looked up, below in its entirety:

 Don’t change. Change is impossible, and even if it were possible, it is undesirable. Stay as you are. Love yourself as you are. And change, if it is at all possible, will take place by itself when and if it wants. Leave yourselves alone. The only growth-promoting change is that which comes from self-acceptance. ~Anthony de Mello.

Certainly, that’s what the trees and rocks do. We found a rock, cleft in half, perhaps by ice or other natural phenomenon. We might do well to follow nature’s example of flowing with what is happening, instead of trying to fight our way upstream.

Eventually, we reached the beginning of the Menunkatuck where it joined the Mattabesset. The sign indicated it was 1.3 miles back to Cherry’s car. We continued, had a snack, admired the ferns, and both agreed that we were tired and ready to be done. Three hours after our start, we spotted Cherry’s bright red car through the trees and gratefully make our way to it.

But, it was only a few seconds later that Cherry said, “That was wonderful. We’ll have to pick a July date for the next piece. We should start early to avoid the heat.”

We’re die-hards, what can we say? We’re hooked on being out in nature, hiking the trails, getting some exercise, and sharing some of ourselves with each other.