Hiking alone is pretty great, but hiking with your soul sister is even better.
Meredith and I have been best friends since age 5. Childhood friends tend to grow apart, but we grew together. We’ve been through everything. Meredith is also a single female. She is fiercely independent, brilliant, and really loves a good hike.
So we threw on our casual weekend dad uniforms and set out to find the Forest Bells– massive wind chimes located in the woods of Groton, MA. The trail directions seemed simple enough, and so we happily crunched along through the leaves in the hazy afternoon sunshine.
When we got to the first “obvious fork” we were looking for, we realized the directions weren’t so simple. What is an obvious fork? Are there subtle forks? All forks should be addressed when giving directions. So, we went right and continued our happy crunching.
After a while, we realized we hadn’t reached our next landmark. We went back to the directions. Did we go the wrong way? We decided to backtrack to the obvious fork and go the other way. “This is right”, we thought, “now we’re on the right path”.
Crunch, crunch, “men suck”, crunch, “work sucks”, crunch, “I should dye my hair purple”, crunch.
Still no landmark. Back to the fork. The other direction. We were looking for a group of fallen trees barring an old road leading uphill to the “right”. We didn’t see any trees, but we decided we had found the old road, so we followed it. We didn’t mind that our trip was a bit of a zigzag. The afternoon was perfect, and we were both in need of a heaping dose of the outdoors. In New England, autumn happens in the snap of a finger if you don’t stop to look at it. We were just happy to be in the company of mother nature and one another.
Still determined to find those damn wind chimes, though.
Pretty soon we found ourselves practically in a marsh, unsure of which move to make next. Then, we heard them. The sound echoed from our right as if we were right there. We couldn’t see anything. We couldn’t see a path to get to them. But, we knew we were close. So we marched backwards, convinced that we would find them if we went back to our original direction.
We began looking for a “grove of hemlocks, quite different from the pines and oaks all around”. We walked along, shouting out our questions to the trees.
“Is this considered and old road?”
“How will I know if I’m in a grove?”
“What’s a hemlock look like? Should we know that?”
Thank god for google. We crunched on, when suddenly we found ourselves beneath massive power lines and heading towards a street with houses on it. Where the hell were these freaking chimes? Why were we so obsessed with finding them, anyway? We laughed at our situation, seeing as it doesn’t get anymore typical “white girl” than getting lost in the woods trying to find huge wind chimes. We turned around again, determined this time to study the trees. “Hemlock groves”, we thought, “we’ll know it when we see it”.
This is where we were when we finally asked for help. We came across an older woman walking her dog. The dog was friendly, so we assumed the human was, too. “We’re looking for the Forest Bells?” I wondered if it were obvious we were a little lost. “Oh, they’re right over there!” she said, pointing a little further ways in the distance. “There’s six chimes. And there’s tee pees”.
She told us to follow that dirt path and take a left. How had we missed it? We picked up the pace and followed her directions. We took the side trail and before we knew it, there was a tee pee. We saw a chime hanging from a tree. Success.
We walked inside the tee pees and pulled on the chimes. The sound was powerful yet soothing. You’re never too old to look for secret things hidden in the woods. We each added a stick to one of the tee pees to leave our mark and took some time to look around.
In the end, we were thankful we couldn’t find the chimes right away. It forced us into exploring the area and spending more time in the woods. We got to spend more time together. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?
Our exit from the woods was smooth and pleasant. I know we both wished the afternoons lasted longer this time of year, but we were thankful to catch the late afternoon sun before it set for the evening. We made our plans to come back in the winter. We’re looking forward to snowfall.
Final thoughts: Everything is better with your best friend–even getting lost. You never really feel “single” when you’ve already found your soulmate at 5 years old. Love is love is love is love. Never stop searching for the giant-ass wind chimes (real or metaphorical). It’s worth it.