Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes

“All lies and jest. Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” Paul Simon

When I was obese, I didn’t seek out activities that required exertion. The local high school football field is built on the side of a large hill, ergo, I didn’t go to many games. Cook Forest State Park and Allegheny National Forest were beautiful places…to drive through. I even avoided sporting goods stores and bought tennis shoes online just so I wouldn’t be reminded of all the things I couldn’t – but deep down wanted – to do.

Within that mindset, I definitely wouldn’t have noticed a new sign along the road for a North Country Trail trailhead. I wouldn’t have even wondered what the North Country Trail was. Whenever I saw or heard the word “trail” I’d immediately recoil knowing my back, knees and lungs couldn’t handle a hike, even though I longed to see the forest from a place other than my car.

Fast forward five years and a sea of attitude adjustment. Last weekend Larry and I took advantage of a spectacular fall day and decided to go for a walk along the Clarion River in a remote area over the Gravel Lick bridge, located about 13 miles from our house. Along the road was this sign:

Am I, like, the last person in the northern midwest/east to know the North Country Trail existed? It’s a huge national trail extending 4,600 miles from North Dakota to New York, so if you live in North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania or New York, there’s a North Country Trail trailhead in your state. Raise your hand if you knew this and shout “hellya!” if you’ve hiked a part of it.

We parked the car down the hill (some people call it a mountain) and walked up to the trailhead. It wasn’t our intention to hike it, but we were curious about the trail and where it would lead us, so we (literally) hoisted ourselves onto the trail and started our ascent. This is what it looked like along the way:

I’m all over this North Country Trail thing and ready for the next leg, hopefully before the snow falls. I’m even considering planning a long weekend next year around the trail and hiking it for hours at a time. Me. Lynn Haraldson-Bering. The woman who just five years ago sat on the sidelines while others went swimming, played softball, rode their bikes, or hiked. To commit vacation time to physical exertion? That’s about as opposite of my former attitude as I can get.

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