A walk in the woods

by littlebatchbotanicals

My favorite spot on the Bernadette Morales Nature Preserve: the summit at the back of the preserve, on the Meditation Trail as it transitions to the Eagle Trail, and where it meets the trailhead into the Uplands Reserve. This area is full of oak trees, and the ground is littered with acorns this time of year. I enjoy sitting on this bench to watch the wildlife, breathe the clean air, and just BE.

I’ve been a hiker pretty much my whole life. My dad, a weekend woodsman of sorts, began taking me into the NJ wilds when I was a wee one. I remember learning what rabbit poo looks like, the purpose of a deer scrape, and how to cross a creek somewhat successfully. Eventually I got to hike parts of the Appalachian Trail, hike  to the highest part of New Jersey, begin a hike in 50 degree weather and end up on a snowy mountaintop, hike through farmed fields, hike through seemingly untouched land, and hike marked trails. After buying a house a few years ago,however, the responsibilities of home ownership took up my weekends and the hikes ceased.

Until last week.

I’d driven past it countless times. The sign reads, “Bernadette Morales Nature Preserve.” Last weekend Joe and I stopped by and were pleasantly surprised to find a heavily wooded area, with a map at the trailhead and blazed trails. I returned the next day and spent four hours there, exploring all of the trails, testing my creek-crossing skills, collecting osage oranges, talking to squirrels, spooking deer (inadvertently), and enjoying the unrivaled beauty of the perfect fall hike. At the upper reaches of the preserve is a second trailhead leading into the Uplands Reserve. This section is open to hunters, and being that it’s the middle of deer season, I decided to forego my exploration of this area until I can get kitted out in head to toe blaze orange clothing… I really do not want to be mistaken for a deer and end up shot in the tail.

I returned to the preserve in the early morning hours each day last week, and briskly hiked for at least 45 minutes each time. Am considering this to be part of my regimen to lose the 30 pounds I put on during treatment (thanks, steroids), and a way for me to spend part of every day drinking in the restorative power of nature.