To my great joy, I had a chance over the weekend to go wandering with a friend in the far away green hills of WV. We started out in a state park I was somewhat familiar with. I'd never hiked the trails there before, though, only gone to the main section of the park and the lovely waterfalls there.
This time, we took the trail. The Rhododendron Trail, according to the sign. It was a rocky trail, but wide and easy to follow, at least for awhile. But then we came to a fork in the trail, and then another and another. We chose our direction at these points as we usually do: whichever trail looks narrower, darker, more mysterious, is the one we take. The secret ways, the ones which might lead us out of the ordinary world and into song or story. This one led us right out of the park, I believe; the path was rockier and rougher, and the trees were closer and thicker. The woods were stately and full of wonder, full of dark, shadowy beauty.
Before long, though, we reached a seeming dead-end on our non-path-- a mostly-dry streambed filled with mossy rocks and boulders. The summer has been a dry one. We thought of turning back, but I wanted to push on just a little further. I climbed up on a few of the rocks, wandered out into the middle of the streambed. My friend has a few small problems with his sense of balance, for various reasons, meaning he has problems with heights and climbing. He waited on the shore patiently while I clambered about. From this new vantage point, I could see a beautiful thing-- just a little further upstream, was a small torrent of water pouring down from a high rock face and into the stream. A secret waterfall!
"Can you make it out here?" I called back. "I want you to see this!" And I told him about the waterfall and its beauty. He made his way out to me, carefully, and we stood and watched the beauty of that clear falling water.
I couldn't leave without snapping a few pictures, of course. I climbed a little closer, up the boulders, over the wobbly little rocks. My friend followed me, uncomfortable. I told him he could wait, and I'd just get a few pictures and come right back, but he came with me anyway. As we crept closer to the little waterfall, we noticed that the water was in a deep pool at the base of the falls, and the water glistened on the dark rocks dappled by the sun.
It was truly a beautiful place, secret and quiet, hidden in the green woods. It is a shame one must go so far from home to find these secret paths, for they are the ones I most like to walk.
Woodland adventure to be continued.