Old Sauk River Trail: 6.0 miles // 150 feet elevation gain
As I drove to the Old Sauk trailhead, I was sure it would start raining any minute. The dark clouds hovered above the trees and mountains: Pilchuck, Three Fingers, then Whitehorse and the Twin Sisters, blazes of white against the gray. Along the Mountain Loop Highway the towering saturated green trees hugged me and welcomed me back. It’s been a while, old friends, I thought to myself, thankful for the return of spring and the promise of many more visits to come.
I met up with our growing group at the trailhead. I was thrilled to have some new faces in the group as well as others that have become familiar. Our little group of bloggers that met up as strangers not even a year ago were reunited and I’m so happy they have since become my good friends. We gave quick introductions and headed down the trail.
It’s immediately evident that this trail is a special one. The trees are speckled with moss and sage green lichen giving them an ethereal quality. If they glowed in the dark you could find as many constellations as there are in the night sky. The longer I look I get lost in them and wonder if I am gazing into the past, into the time before there were eyes like mine to see them. When there was only the river, the ferns, the moss, the lichen, the rocks.
My senses were overwhelmed as we stop each other to point out each sign of spring we saw. I heard a squeal of joy as Lainey discovered a trillium and another from Laura who spotted the teeny tiny pink bells of flowers on a huckleberry bush. We imagined ourselves as woodland fairies taking Sunday naps on the soft tufts of moss that covered every branch and surrounding forest floor, shaded by the tiniest white mushrooms caps you’ve ever seen.
As lunchtime approached we found a comfy place to sit and share our thoughts about the book, Grandma Gatewood’s Walk. Emma Gatewood’s walk through the woods of the Appalachian Trail could not have been more different than ours. She was escaping some fierce demons in her life and she was alone without the modern comforts of proper hiking boots, backcountry stoves, freeze dried food or even a tent. She carried a meager 20 pounds of gear with only a shower curtain to protect her from the rain and depended on the kindness of strangers for a meal and a place to sleep. When there were none, she foraged what food she could find in the woods and slept on a bed of leaves.
During the 1950’s when Emma embarked on the Appalachian Trail, a huge cultural shift was taking place. The national highway system was becoming established and everyone used their cars to get around. In many places a lack of sidewalks made it impossible to walk from place to place. I didn’t realize just how much people used to walk until Montgomery points out in the book that people used to regularly walk 20 miles a day! Charles Dickens once said, “walk and be happy; walk and be healthy.”
Emma Gatewood’s story is an inspiring one. She learned about the Appalachian Trail in an issue of National Geographic magazine and just decided to do it one day. She didn’t let the fact that she was 67 years old, had 11 grown children and a horrible abusive husband hold her back. She never felt sorry for herself or tried to justify what she was doing. When asked why she was doing it she simply said, “because I wanted to.”
As we were walking back on this trail filled with life and incredibly scenery, I felt grateful. Grateful for the comfort of the forest, grateful that it never rained on us, grateful that I have a caring and loving husband, grateful that we have these trails to walk in the age of the car, and grateful for these wonderful people who came out to share a book and a hike with me.
Be a trail angel and make these for your next group hike to share. 🙂
Whole Grain Blueberry Muffin Recipe:
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 c old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 c flax seed
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c plain yogurt (I use Nancy’s Organic Plain Non-fat Yogurt)
1/2 c light brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp grated orange zest
1/4 c fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c fresh or frozen blueberries
- Preheat oven to 350F. Ground the oats and flax seed into a meal (I use a coffee grinder).
- Combine flour, oat meal, flax seed meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, brown sugar, butter, orange zest & juice, egg, and vanilla.
- Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated, fold in blueberries.
- Divide into greased muffin pan. Bake 25-30 minutes.
For those of you who read the book but couldn’t make it to the hike- I would love for you to leave a comment and tell me what you thought of the book!
Want to join the club and find out the scoop on the next hike and book selection? Sign up here!
Trailblazers: Emma Gatewood