Finding a Secret

It’s been a while since I’ve gone hiking. It was last year, in fact, when I visited friends in Southern California over December break. I love hiking and exploring nature and breathing clear air, so I immediately said yes when a coworker suggested a walk through Silver Lake Preserve in Westchester County last week. We had a heat wave, too, so it really was summer for about three days, which is as good a time as any to seek shade and relief from humidity by wandering through trails and trees.

The vast majority of the trail was deserted and I’m not sure many people actually know Silver Lake Preserve exists. It’s beautiful, so I’m not quite sure why that is, though parking was a challenge so maybe that’s a deterrent.

Every so often, however, we came across signs that others had been there. And we felt strangely like we were documenting our own version of the The Blair Witch Project.

We did our best to follow the Heritage Trail around the lake but were not very successful following the trail markers, which also contributed to an uncanny Blair Witch sensation. We were pretty sure we wanted the blue trail, but saw an equal number of yellow, red, and white squares and groupings of circles painted on trees. But we must have done something right because here I am telling you about it!

It is not an exaggeration to say that we couldn’t hear or see any cars or any signs of civilization for most of our time in the woods. I felt a sense of peace and quiet that surprised me; I didn’t realize how much I missed places like Mendon Ponds Park back home in Rochester. I felt light and free and enjoyed myself without thinking too hard about it, jumping on rocks and logs and smiling at the sound of mud squishing underfoot. My new Tevas did not disappoint!

And then, of course, there was the lake itself. Water is my happy place. No doubt about it. I love the way it looks, sounds, and smells. I love throwing my head back and opening my whole body to absorb as much of its energy as I can. It makes me feel alive, each and every time.

I’ve been remiss in not really venturing anywhere in Westchester County aside from school. I’m glad to know that places like Silver Lake Preserve exist, especially when I spend so much time in the noise, crowds, and concrete of the city. The good company and very welcome change of scenery left me with a feeling of relaxation that carried me through the rest of the week. I’ve learned that there are other parks in Westchester and I’m looking forward to exploring them, too!

In nature nothing exists alone. – Rachel Carson

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