Autumn is here in the wind, the temperature—54o at dawn, the scattered clusters of blush and yellow leaves among the green. The lake is too cold to consider a swim and the wind-driven waves are stronger than I want to fight in my canoe.
But it’s a perfect day for a hike in the woods. I locate a trail on my map–“Parker”—on the north-east side of Sussex State Park. As predicted, the trail enters the forest near the area where we park the car. The path descends rapidly to a stream about 15 feet wide, then parallels the water. A pleasant gurgling accompanies us as water flows and we stumble over rocks. Soon pine trees skirt the brook and the path opens up. The rocks are replaces by a soft blanket of pine needles. It’s a pleasure to walk here. The spongy ground welcomes our feet and springs back. We are enveloped in quiet.
As a child, wandering in the woods behind my aunt’s home in Ronkonkoma, I often tried to walk “like an Indian” –silently. I never succeeded. Dry leaves and twigs always betrayed me. Now I imagine that Native Americans may have chosen paths through the piney areas.
The map shows the trail crossing another stream which flows into ours. I expect to find a small bridge, or at least a log, but instead there is only a chain of rocks, breaking the surface of the water from our side to the opposite bank.
“The water’s too cold to cross now,” says my husband. “We’ll have to come back here in the summer.”
I agree. I wouldn't want to fall in and ride home chilled and wet.
Reluctantly we turn around and retrace our steps through the pine-scented woods.