Northeastern Part Of State, Preston County. Closest Town: Aurora. The Well-Marked Entrance Is Just East Of Aurora On U.S. 50. The Park Is Open Until 10:00 P.M.
In The Blog Blue Highways, William Least Heat Moon Describes Taking Off For A Long Road Trip After His Marriage Fails. Moon Travels Alone In His Van, Taking The Smaller, More Scenic Roads Shown In Blue On His Map.
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On Those Roads He Experiences The Real America That He Writes About. On My Map, The Largest Highways Are Shown In Blue And The Smaller Roads In Red Or Gray, But My Impulse Is The Same As Moon’S. I Have A Destination The Old Growth But Along The Way I Want To See An Authentic Landscape. I Feel Anesthetized Traveling On Superhighways Where The Land Has Been Made To Fit The Road; I Want The Road To Rise As The Hills Rise And To Drop Back Down Through The Valleys. I Want To Drive On A Small Road Where The Branches Hang Over And I Can Tell If I’M Passing Through Oak Or Poplar. I Want To Be Able To Stop At The Next Little Store And Be The Only Stranger There.
The Red Road To The Forest At Cathedral State Park Is Especially Lovely. Travel To Old-Growth Forests Is Different From Other Sorts Of Travel. In Almost Every Case, I Had Not Been To The Forest Before Nor Met Anyone Who Had. As I Checked And Rechecked The Directions, Getting Nearer With Every Mile, A Certain Tension Built And Grew, Finally Bursting Into Exhilaration When At Last I Saw The Sign.
You Pull In And Park. You Have Made It To The Forest! Perhaps There Is Another Car In The Parking Lot, Perhaps Not. But Certainly There Will Be Trees, Clean Air, And Birdsong. You Get Out And Stretch While The Truck Makes Little Ticking Noises As It Cools Off. It Seems So Quiet After The Noise Of The Road. You Are Anxious To Step Into The Forest Which Is Right There But It Is Best To Delay That Gratification Until You’Ve Changed Your Shoes And Put A Few Things In Your Pack. Then, Finally, Finally, You Take Your First Few Steps On The Trail And It All Comes Rushing At You The Green, The Damp, The Fragrance, The Bird Calls. The Trees Seem Large, But They Are Not Overwhelming. The Landscape Is Complex But In A Subtle Way.
I Found Myself Just Wanting To Walk At First. Just Walk, Breathe, Listen, Look. Just Become Part Of The Forest For A While And Let It Become Part Of Me. I Didn’T Try To Take Notes Or Pictures Or Identify Anything; There Would Be Time For All Of That Later. For Now, I Would Just Be, Just Feel What The Living Earth Under My Feet Is Supposed To Feel Like, And Imagine When This Forest Stretched So Far That You Couldn’T Walk Out Of It In A Day Or Even A Few Days. I Would Have Liked To Be In That Forest, But Already The Giant Hemlock Trail Had Ended At A Farm Field, And I Needed To Decide Whether To Turn Onto The Partridge Berry Trail Or The Cathedral Trail. These Trails Were Measured In Feet Instead Of Miles; They Were Easy And Well Maintained.
I Eventually Walked Both Trails, And On The Partridge Berry Trail I Was Pleased To See The Partridge Berry Plants In Bloom. I Stopped To Watch A Bumblebee Visiting The Flowers. Heavy With Nectar, She Didn’T Even Bother To Fly But Just Crawled From Blossom To Blossom.
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