We’re now onto Day Two of my solo Catskills adventure, or my “RE-TREAT YOSELF” as Dave affectionately calls it. This is where the isolation starts setting in. At this point in my trip, I hadn’t spoken to, or even seen a human in over 24 hours, and the world was starting seem very, very far away.
I don’t have much to add to this journal. This entry is what I would call the calm before the storm — or, the day before I came back to life.
I hope you enjoy it. And, for the record, I promise the journey gets better!
To catch up on The Catskills Diaries: Part One, click here.
Day 2: Tuesday, October 1
It’s October and it LOOKS like October! The foliage here is nearly full color. I’m surrounded by bright bursts of red, orange, yellow, and green at every turn — a lush and colorful palate, to say the least. I am in leaf-peaper HEAVEN. I like when there is still some green on the trees. It creates a beautiful color contrast and makes the forrest look fuller, unlike at “peak” color when the green is all but abolished; the branches of so many trees are bare. The green never gets its due — it’s considered tiresome by the time October rolls around, what with all of its wild, rare colors.
All of that is to say that to be here, now is incomparable. The beauty is almost too much to bear. I want to take in every ounce of it, but know that my time is limited and I cannot see it all… though I long and dream to.
I made myself eggs and worked in the morning, and fretted for hours over what to do in the afternoon. I finally decided to go hike Giant Ledge. I showed up some time around 1:30, after a long and gorgeous drive across Parksville and onto Route 47, which brought me to the trailhead. I put on my new hiking boots, which I’ve been dying to break in, and got on the trail.
The beginning was quite rocky and difficult climbing, but I got in a groove and powered up much more quickly than I thought I would. When I got to the top, the views were spectacular. I was exhausted and sad (I had started thinking about the magnitude of losing Mom), and as soon as I saw the expanse of the gorgeous Catskills mountains, I nearly lost it. I was choking up, but was too pleased with what I had accomplished to cry. I sat on a ledge and had my sandwich, trying unsuccessfully to capture the view on camera for Dave.
I felt so small, and yet at the same time, sitting on that ledge up there seemed deeply meaningful. In a way that I can’t communicate. The changing trees stretched as far as the eye could see — the colors reminded me of fireworks exploding against the mountains. The afternoon was cloudy, so everything over yonder was darkened by shadows. All of this, set against the distant backdrop of the far-reaching and ominous Catskills. I hope to have this photograph in my mind forever.
As I hiked back, my head swam with thoughts of my mother, grief, and the disappointment I felt in so many of my relationships. I must have lost track of the trail somehow, as I stopped recognizing my surroundings. It honestly seemed impossible to have faltered (the trail was THAT well-marked on the way up!), so I kept forging onward. I told myself to trust the trail, and trust the guidebook. Like probably a hundred or so times. But apparently I was just lying to myself the whole time. I ended up on some alternate trail that went a mile or two out of my way. It spat me out at a tiny, serene lake on Route 47, scratching my head at how it all went down.
Thinking back, I probably should have trusted my instincts and turned around earlier. But it was kind of hilarious, actually. It reminds me of all my hikes with Dave. We always manage to get ourselves lost, no matter how hard we try to stay on trail. It’s half adorable, and half mortifying. We simply cannot help it, though: I don’t bother to pay attention, and he has no sense of direction. We’re hopeless. I could not love him more.
Tonight, I will set up an outdoor “altar” to force me onto the porch to look at the stars. I brought out six candles and a string of Christmas lights hoping that ambient lighting will make me less afraid. I will smoke a hookah on the porch and play my banjo and attempt to “make a night of it” as they say.
Wish me luck!