Running the Trails at Sunset (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 1)

Hello, friends! After neglecting my blog for much too long, I have decided to hyper-extend as a return effort and try to blog a post-a-day for the month of November! (Nothing like going from zero to 60, eh?!) The whirling shit-show of the political world has sucked me in, following the news obsessively and losing hours to other activities each day, because it seems every time one takes an evening off, another bombshell drops! However, as Thanksgiving approaches, it is a good reminder that there is always …. always … something to be grateful for!

Kicking it off … one of my favorite stress release activities … trail running.  So, fair warning, you may see a few of these this month, reflecting back on my favorite time of year to enjoys the trails … Fall! (Seems particularly timely, as we are now facing an early visit by winter, with snow on the ground and snow flurrying as I write)!

Fall trail running in Duluth

Nature truly does bathe you in all her goodness, and helps your worries fade away. The golden rays breaking through increasingly bare branches, while the colorful rusts and golds crunch underfoot.

Hope you will join me this month!

So good to “talk” with you again!

~ Kat

The Joy is in the Journey, Not the Destination

As fall colors start to fade, get out for a walk or a run.  Appreciate the crunch of fallen leaves under your feet, the light filtered through sparser canopies of orange and gold, and crisp chill of the air.

Joy of an Autumn Run

Ciao! ~ Kat

Pottery on the Rustic Road

Every fall, a picturesque farm on the outskirts of the river town of Hudson, Wisconsin, hosts a pottery show and sale which is a feast for the senses.

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Once inside, the talent of this event is evident.

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The pottery is displayed inside a rustic and lovingly restored barn.

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The diversity of styles and creativity is inspiring.  You can’t help but leave with something carefully wrapped and packaged for the drive home.  The fact that a portion of the sales is donated to Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger-relief organization, only provides more incentive to loosen the pursestrings.

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Wandering again outside, homegrown fiddles and country strings fill the air, while artisans work their magic.

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The farm features outdoor raku firing demonstrations, smoke and fire joining forces with the artist.

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And children are mesmerized as one of the artists magically brings to life a pot or vase from a lump of clay.

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The original farm cottage is open for wandering, and only adds to the charm of the setting.  You may end up visiting and never want to leave.

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You have until 5:00 p.m. today to visit this once-a-year event …. otherwise, be sure to mark your calendars next year and enjoy a classic fall day on the Rustic Road.

Ciao! ~ Kat

For more information on the Rustic Road 13 Pottery Event & Sale:  http://www.rusticroad13pottery.com.

Renewing the Spirit on the Superior Hiking Trail

Noon already had come and gone by the time my favorite hiking companion and I hit the road.  The last weekend of September is often when fall colors start to reveal their full glory in northern Minnesota.  As we headed up Highway 61, snaking along the North Shore of Lake Superior, the trees were only just starting to show hints of yellow and gold, with a flash of red here and there.

Section 13 trail on the Superior Hiking Trail

We obtained a recommendation for hiking trails which were compatible with the limited daylight hours we had remaining, and which highlighted the best of the season that weekend.  Turning the car inland, the leaves and bushes became increasingly more colorful and vibrant as we traveled away from the lake.  We drove through the town of Finland and found the trailhead parking area for the Section 13 trail of the Superior Hiking Trail.  

I have lived in Minnesota for over 20 years — and have enjoyed many classic fall color hikes and drives over the years.  What is wondrous is that each season posseesses unique gifts, just waiting to be discovered.  This hike, late on a September Sunday afternoon, provided the uplifting boost to the spirit I had been seeking.

“You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.” ~ Paulo Coelho

Cresting the hill to catch the view, Section 13 on the Superior Hiking Trail

The Section 13 trail leads to a Sawmill Valley overlook, after winding across bubbling creeks and up a rocky set of steps.– much easier for a set of four legs to clamber up than two!  As we crested the rocky staircase, the waves of vibrant fall colors appeared to undulate across the distant hills.

View from Section 13 overlook, Superior Hiking Trail

We sat on a rocky ledge, just my faithful companion and me, and soaked in the beauty spread out below us, appreciating the seemingly infinite clusters of turning maples.  Alone with my thoughts, I could reflect upon a month of loss and grief — my heart still breaking over the unexpected death of a beautiful, vibrant friend whose sons were the same ages as mine, and feeling the still-fresh sorrow from attending the funeral the day before of a 15 year-old boy who had taken his own life, leaving behind the far-reaching pain that bullying can inflict.  Both tragedies weighed heavily on my mind, with tears the norm rather than the exception during the latter weeks of September.

 “If it can be verified, we don’t need faith… Faith is for that which lies on the other side of reason. Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle

View from Section 13 overlook, Superior Hiking Trail

The trails called to me that afternoon — I needed to surround myself with the most basic of natural life, to provide that reassurance that life goes on.

Heading back to the Section 13 trailhead, Superior Hiking Trail

We made our way back to the Section 13 trailhead, and walked a short distance along the higwhay until we reached the Sawmill Dome trail.  My watch read 4:45 p.m., and the sun already was casting late afternoon shadows as we entered the woods again, reminding us that evening light would come soon enough.

Clambering up at the start of Sawmill Dome trail, Superior Hiking Trail

Countless times I have stared up at a canopy of trees.  This second section of trail we explored compelled me to look up often and appreciate the artistry of the leafy layers.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”    ~ Marcel Proust

Appreciating Fall's colors

I mentally bookmarked this trail section for a return visit — with our limited daylight hours remaining, we were only able to do a 4-mile round trip hike to Sawmill Dome and back. The vistas from the path as it hugged the rocky ledges, opening up into the valley below, were spectacular.

Maples on fire with color from the Sawmill Dome trail, Superior Hiking Trail

The maples were on fire as the late afternoon sun warmed up the colors another notch — reds, golds, yellows, and greens for as far as the eye could see.  We pushed on toward the Sawmill Dome overlook, as much as these views called for pause.  A large rocky outcropping with tall trees decorating the top ledge blocked the forest trail, causing the path to wind around its base and work its way up toward the open sky.  Despite the fading daylight, this place warranted a break for reflection.

Best friend on Sawmill Dome, Superior Hiking Trail

Solitude was what I craved on this glorious afternoon, sharing it only with another companion who understands living in the moment better than most — my four-legged friend, Corbin.  We had the view to ourselves, and Corbin’s unburdened joy was infectious.

Sawmill Dome ~ Superior Hiking Trail

Before we turned back, I decided a photo was needed.  My companion was less than helpful as I tried to set up the camera for a timed shot.

Getting the camera timer situated

More than one take was necessary . . .

Faithful hiking companion on Sawmill Dome

The sorrow and grief remained, but intertwined with them was the overwhelming need to appreciate the beauty of life and the unique gifts, as well as challenges, that each day holds.

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” ~ Albus Dumbledore, from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Faithful hiking companion on Sawmill Dome

Ciao! ~ Kat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated

Just one of the many photos I took yesterday while hiking and taking in the spectacular hues of the northern Minnesota landscape.  This solitary maple leaf, gently cradled in a bed of spiky groundcover, seemed to bleed red from its veins, so saturated it was with the changing colors of the season.

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Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”Saturated” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.