I just got out today to the woods after a week or so of being cooped up. The quest was not going to be easy going. It was our first jaunt to Webb Mountain Park, which is far from smooth and easy hiking. We would encounter hills, steep descents and confusing path changes. There are multiple entrances to the trails, which makes the path more challenging. I was armed with a new weapon for this hike, and one which I knew had to be procured before attempting this site: hiking boots.
Until today, I’ve been using any footwear with a tread in my closet. The new age sneakers with a rounded heel (meant to stretch the hamstring as you walk) proved dangerous because I couldn’t stabilize on uneven terrain or areas where roots and leaves congregated. Traditional boots with a slight tread were slippery. Land’s End moccasins were okay, but I had no ankle support and almost twisted said ankle many times. Ultimately, the best shoes I found in my closet were an old pair of standard sneakers with very little tread. My feet hurt and I got blisters.
On the recommendation of my boyfriend, who is a geocacher, I went to Walmart because he bought a good pair of boots there priced reasonably. In the women’s section, I found a pair priced normally around $28 for $10 on clearance. While not top of the line, they met all my needs in terms of good treads, ankle support and comfort. I could use thicker socks if needed and had a good amount of wiggle room in the toes. And with waterproof spray, my bargain boots could be impervious to water. They will get me through another season until I can afford something better.
We found the first two letterboxes after spending an hour looking for the start point, which was in the one obvious place we hadn’t looked. Then, in a hike that proved to be the most challenging yet, we found two of the five boxes. Each one presented its own obstacles. With proper footwear, narrow pathways, mixed ground terrain (roots, leaves, rocks embedded in the ground), ascents and descents were a dream. The better treads of a hiking boot allowed me to adjust my feet properly for balance for the first time.
At one point, after finding the first two, I almost gave up. The next leg would take us up another hill and my legs were screaming. We’d already hiked close to 2 miles of mixed hills and rugged terrain. The next ascent would take us to the Webb Mountain Overlook, a view I couldn’t pass up. With a short break for some water and much needed breath, we made the ascent to the Overlook.
When I looked down, the view was breathtaking. As the picture with this blog shows, the view of the Housatonic and all the mountains around was amazing. I forgot all about my weary legs and felt a great sense of accomplishment. This was my first hike to the summit of any park in Connecticut and it was beautiful. We found the remaining boxes after hiking a few more miles (downhill, thankfully) and returned home exhausted but happy.
I am returning to Webb tomorrow with another hiking group, which includes two children, aged 6 and 12, as well their adult guardian. We’ve been letterboxing on the weekends for two months and they have built up greater endurance and skill as the trails got progressively harder. This will be their first real test of how much they have progressed. We are finding five more letterboxes.
But for today, I have my overlook and that is going in my future scrapbook