Along The Trail 6-30-16


Editor’s Note: ‘Along the Trail’ is a weekly column written by David Hewitt of Switzerland County; and covers all things dealing with the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.


I lace up my boots and step out of the car and the humidity hits me like a hammer to the face.

To say the last few days have been oppressive would be an understatement. With temps in the 90’s and dew points in the 70’s, June feels more like late July – but, I still need to stretch my legs, so an early morning hike is in order.

I start my walk at the environmental park just outside of Rising Sun along the low path next to Arnold’s Creek. I’ve known about the park for several years now, but it wasn’t until one of my best friends used its trails and hills to get in shape for an elk hunt to the Rockies had I given it much thought. Since then, I’ve made a point to add it to my exercise routine. I spend a lot of time at the Y and exercise around the house when time doesn’t allow me to get to the gym, but mixing things up a bit and going on a rigorous hike helps to give me a boost when I get bored with my typical routine.

The clover along the trail is thick and covered in dew. There is still the faint hint of honeysuckle in the air and it’s good to see bees buzzing around the flowering plants. I unconsciously find myself counting my steps in my head – habit I’ve gotten into over the years to break up the monotony of walking.

The first few hundred yards click off easily as I round a turn in the trail and feel the noticeable grade in elevation.

My calves begin to burn a bit and my thighs tighten with each step as the path becomes steeper. Area cross country teams use this course regularly and an annual 5K run is held on the trail as well.

Halfway up the hill at a steady clip and I can only image how challenging a run up this beast would be. The rutted up course, eroded from recent rains levels out and in short order, my heart rate slows and my breathing comes back in line. Sweat is rolling off of me and burns the corners of my eyes, but it’s a good pain knowing that I’m burning through too many calories from last night’s dinner.

The trail takes a steep turn and I grind out a couple hundred more steps and finally crest the top of the hill and once again, my breathing comes back to normal. I can feel my heart pounding and for a fleeting second, I think to myself that I probably should have told someone where I was at in the event that the old ticker decided to stop working, but I slow my pace and relax a bit and take in the view. Through the thick foliage, I can survey the river and the long bottoms on the Kentucky side of the big sweeping bend.

A bass boat buzzes down the river, its motor throwing a rooster tail of water while the fisherman make their way to some secret spot. A barge loaded heavy slugs its way upstream and slowly makes the turn near the mouth of the creek.

My breath caught, I pick up my pace and finish my first lap with a brisk downhill. I check the step counter on my cell phone and grin at the number reached at this early hour and get ready for round two. I wonder how many more steps I’ll have to take to take to counteract the glazed donuts calling my name!

I’m not a fitness buff or some exercise guru, but what I have come to accept that I’m getting closer and closer to being 50 years old and things physically aren’t quite as easy for me as they were a few years ago.

I enjoy being active, being outdoors whether I’m chasing whitetails or sneaking along hunting squirrels. I hope to be able to participate in the hobbies I love well into my senior years and the only way to have a chance at that is to take care of myself now and, like it or not, it requires a certain amount of exercise.

If you’re like me, right in the middle of middle-age and you want to enjoy your retirement years, I’d ask you to consider joining me out here along the trail…

– David Hewitt