Sometimes the Hen Hike is not about the hiking. Although we spend many hours walking through woods, trudging up hills, and picking our way across little streams by stepping from one stone to another, we spend many hours talking, laughing, and opening our hearts to one another. However, some hours are spent hiking through the gift shops. Yesterday, it was cold and raining in the morning, so my roommate Mary and I opted not to go hiking with the group, but to do a little shopping in the town of Stillwater, which was the first town settled in Minnesota in 1885. Of course, now its a tourist town on the St. Croix River, but the shopkeepers were all welcoming and helpful. Normally, I would prefer to hike than to shop, but this year, because of my sciatica, I was advised by my doctor to take one day off from hiking. That was a good enough excuse for me to play tourist. Besides, I had a ready and willing shopping guide, and thats a treat I dont pass up lightly. I bought Christmas gifts for my granddaughters and gourmet chocolates for my mother.
In the evenings at the Hen Hike, we take turns telling the group about what we did over the past year since we last were together. The stories we hear are always fascinating and exciting. Pat told us about hiking in the Grand Canyon, and of course, we all had a million questions, the most prominent one being, could we blind hikers do it? The answer from Pat was Absolutely. Could that be our next Hen Hike? Well, probably not next year, because you have to make reservations for a guide and to stay at Fantom Ranch way in advance, and I dont think this group could make that decision quickly enough. It takes us a half hour to decide which trail were going to take for the day.
Today, it was the quintessential fall day, and I was thankful that I could ignore my aching leg and enjoy the 6-mile walk through another state park. This trail was quite a bit hillier than the one we did on Monday, but back in New England, we would have called this trail a nice break from our normally challenging hike.
One of my favorite parts of the day was when we stopped by a little babbling brook for our traditional 5 minutes of silent reflection, prayer, or just immersing ourselves in the beauty of our surroundings and the moment. Yes, it is possible to get 10 women to keep quiet for 5 minutes.
We ended the day with a cup of hot cider at an apple orchard. Theres a saying in Norway that describes perfectly how I felt today. It translates to We rich have it good.