One of the great opportunities we have for escape during the current pandemic is the extensive system of trails across the South Fork. Getting outdoors is a balm for cabin fever and the too-close existence we now have with our loved ones. Tall green pines against deep blue skies. Narrow paths winding through high bush blueberry and stands of mountain laurel, leading to secret ponds and broad vistas over the bays and ocean. And this early spring weather has been ideal for hiking: cool breezes warmed by the sun.
I hesitate to even write about the beauty of the trails for fear it will lure yet more adventure seekers into the woods than have already materialized over the past few weeks. Miles from nowhere, suddenly a family of four emerges from what only months ago was a glade or valley that only deer and wild turkeys knew about.
OK, well, good for them — they’re out there enjoying some nature, and, hopefully, the kids and their parents are learning something.
But here’s the thing: Along with the increased use, the amount of trash along the trails has spiked like cases during a bad week of the coronavirus.
The point of being in the woods is not to be reminded of the world beyond the trail head. That’s hard to do when there are tissues, plastic bags and candy wrappers dropped carelessly into the pine straw.
My wife and I have been spending a lot more time walking in the woods these days, and we’ve been stunned by what we’ve, with great reluctance and caution, picked up. Yesterday’s catch included a half-drunk bottle of blue Gatorade, Dunkin’ Donuts napkins and a blue paper face mask. I should be grateful, I suppose, that someone was actually using a face mask, even for, apparently, a short while.
These could have been — probably were — accidental lapses; but, please, people, think about what you’re doing.
And while I’m at it, lose the cellphones! But I digress.
At the head of one of our favorite trails, on the corner of Northwest and Old Northwest roads, some Good Samaritan has placed a garbage can. That someone felt a need to do this because of all the trash that was around is disheartening.
There’s a sign you’ll see at many trail heads: “If You Carry It In, Carry It Out.” There’s a reason for that: Those of us who like to disappear into the woods for an hour or more each day don’t want to be confronted with the world we left behind.
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One fine body…