I had heard about places like this one, in legend and song, sung by bards throwing their melodic words to the four winds. I had read about it in books, in dusty old tomes that told tales of the way life used to be. Finally, I had found my Nirvana.
I realized when I stepped onto the trail (on February 24) that as far as my eyes could see, there was absolutely, positively, not even the slightest hint of snow!
For the first time in 2011, I walked on bare ground. In ways, it was a truly strange sensation, knowing that there was no chance of slipping and sliding on the trail, that I could plant my foot with that old confidence that brought me through 360 days of trail walking in 2009 (I had pneumonia for the other five). Then I hit the mud.
Still, I didn't care. I slid, stretched out an inner leg muscle I didn't even know I had, but stayed on my feet. And I was glad I did, for there was plenty to see. Ospreys nest on a powerline pole crossbar here, and their nest awaits their return in a month or so. There's a tree that grew a limb that decided to hug the ground for a while and take a 90 degree turn into the sky. The trail goes right between it and the main trunk. There's a big holly tree at the river's edge. While standing there examining it, I realized I was hearing something I've only heard one other time this year: nothing.
I stood as still as possible, watching the water roll past. I thought back to a visit to Townsend early this year, and how close I had come to complete silence. This spot was almost there. If not for the tiniest drone, the smallest hum of traffic on Route 28, I might have found it, but no luck.
Still, standing there, no hats, no gloves and no snow, I was in heaven.