Friday, November 27, 2015

Opt Outside

Today is "Black Friday" when everyone is supposed to stand in line overnight at the big box stores and score awesome deals on Christmas shopping.

I don't do this. I've never done this. I don't plan to ever do this.

If I happen to have a day off work - a weekend, a holiday, a random day - we go outside. Specifically, hiking.

Nice thing to have in your pocket while hiking!

So when I heard about the #OptOutside movement this year where a few big box stores weren't going to open for Black Friday and were actually encouraging people to go outside instead, I was super excited!

I don't get up on a soap box very often, but I really think people would be happier if they didn't let the consumerism of the holidays hit them so hard, and instead get outside and enjoy nature, show appreciation for the people in their lives and be grateful for what they have.

Anyway, that's what we did today. Yesterday started off with fog and then rained the rest of the day, so we didn't get a chance to be outside... and I'm assuming that most of the hunters also stayed inside. Since hunting season is still in full swing and a lot of hunters would be in the woods today making up lost time from yesterday's weather, we chose to hike along the Grandfather Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trail since I can't imagine many hunters using this tiny strip of hiking trail nestled between Hwy 107 and the Wisconsin River.

I was right - no one was out today. It was only 25 degrees and there was a very light dusting of snow on the ground; ours were the first footprints to make their mark along the trail.

The water tubes were still shooting spouts of water into the air, but there were frozen spots now that the temps have dropped. The trail was crusted over with water that had blown across the field during high winds and vegetation was coated in thick layers of ice, making for some interesting sculptures.

A peacefulness settled over me as I entered the woods, sheltered from the cold winds of the open field. I took off my hood and listened to the roar of the river over the falls off to my left. I slowly picked my way through the giant boulders that make up the trail and let myself be absorbed by the trees.

It's impossible to capture the beauty of this trail in photos... I know some of these look like anyplace else. And at this time of year, when the underbrush has died, there is not as much "greenery" to make for spectacular photos.

But I assure you that these woods are still magical. I marvel at the way tree roots weave and wrap themselves over rocks and boulders, hanging on with all their might. The forest floor is green with mosses and lichen, clinging to the shady side of all the rocks. Pine trees are dusted with the first snow and the light reflecting off them makes the forest glow a little.

Everything is quiet except for the river.

I absentmindedly touch each tree trunk as I pass by it, memorizing the feel of the bark and moss. And even though these trees are entering a dormant period, I'm still able to absorb their energy.

I sit with my back against giant rock outcroppings, marveling at the layers of striations and thinking about how old they are. The softness of moss and lichens contrasts with the cold, hardness of the rocks, and I absorb the energy from these as well.

After 90 minutes of hiking, I emerged back into the parking area with cold legs and a warm heart. It was a good day to be outside.


  1. You are wise, Heather. That's what I should have done. Instead, I spent the day inside finishing up my holiday cards and some other projects. No Black Friday shopping for me either! I had heard about the #OptOutside theme, too, but I forgot about it. That will be my goal for next year. Do you hike with another human or just with Charlie? Did you use a timer for the photo of yourself leaning against the rock? Your hike does look like a magical place! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for the comment! Charlie is my typically my only hiking companion, but occasionally a friend or two will join us. I use my timer on my camera for all my "selfies" since Charlie hasn't been able to figure out how to take pictures yet. ;)

  2. Heather great pics! your story as well as pics are an inspiration to Go outside!