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Being Rewarded for Pandemic Hiking Practices

During this pandemic I’ve made going for a walk on the Ice Age Trail an essential party of my mental health and wellness plan, as have many people. In order to maintain a safe physical distance I try to hike on days of the week and during times of day when there may be fewer people. As a retired person that’s easy for me to do.  I’m also making a point of visiting segments of the Ice Age Trail (and other trails) that are not as popular and tend to get less foot traffic.

Despite these precautions I still come across people as I hike. This is fine by me as it’s an opportunity for a brief social interaction, something I’ve missed while spending a lot of time at home. When I see someone approaching I usually step off the trail a bit (not enough to damage vegetation) to allow the other person to pass.  I’m delighted to report that I am frequently rewarded for this simple action.

One day, as I made room for a hiker to pass and stood for a moment to enjoy the woods around me, a turkey flew out of a nearby tree. On that same hike I stepped off the trail and spotted a toad that was doing its best to blend in with the dead leaves all around it. On yet another hike I yielded the trail and was pleased to find some hard-to-find morel mushrooms, which were small but enough for the next morning’s omelet.

The moral  (or should I say, the morel) of this story: There are so many wonderful things waiting to be discovered if I slow down and look for them….Along the Ice Age Trail.

Patti Herman

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