You know you've had a great fall break when getting back to classes feels restful. I did not drive hundreds of miles down the Interstate to a hurricane-ravaged area over my long weekend but I did drive dozens of miles to hike up and down hills and get lost in a corn maze and enjoy some brisk fall air. My joints may be complaining today, but my grandkids enjoyed their first visit to Hocking Hills and that's worth the pain.
When my husband and I go hiking at Hocking Hills, we generally take a six-mile loop from Old Man's Cave to Cedar Falls and back, a strenuous hike with lots of climbing up and down steep slopes. That's not a route for small children, so this time we took shorter hikes to three different kinds of caves. Baby E slept most of the way, but Little E was doing her delightful Tigger act, hopping and bouncing and running up the pathways. The fun thing about hiking with a three-year-old is that she's totally fearless, but that's also the scary thing. At first she feared finding bears in the caves, but then she wasn't afraid of anything--not cliffs or climbing rocks or huge ledges of sandstone dangling over her head.
Some other hikers were out on Monday but we often had the trails to ourselves, winding back into hollows that grew darker and damper as we neared the caves. A few trees have started turning brilliant shades of orange and yellow, but mostly we moved through a dense green space where moss and ferns softened the sharp edges of the cliffs.
"Look! A beach!" said Little E, digging into the deep sand below Ash Cave. It's impossible to capture the grandeur of this huge sandstone ledge within the borders of a photograph, but that doesn't stop me from trying. It's the kind of place that defies description and representation--the only way to see it is to be there.
Wish I could be there now. On the other hand, today's classes will require no rock-climbing or muscle strains or unexpected schedule changes. As much as I enjoyed a strenuous break, what my body and mind need right now is a totally boring and uneventful day--starting with an 8 a.m. class focusing on library research. Let's see how dull a day can be!