Walk On The Wild Side

“How about a quickie?” a friend had grinned cheekily, emboldened by Dutch courage brought about by more than a few sun-downers. “Why not!” I’d breezed back similarly high-spirited. “Pick a place then!” came his excited riposte. That was all the encouragement I needed. It’d been a while, and I had really begun to miss that fun factor called spontaneity.  Time you summoned it, woman, I spurred myself. Next thing, we’re dashing for his car.

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I picked a place I visited about the same time last year. It had included a thoroughly enjoyable ramble through birdsong-replete woodlands I suddenly fancied a repeat of. Never mind it was nearly five hundred kilometres away and would entail daylong drives to and from with a spare thrown in for the hike. But what the heck! Sometimes crazy is so normal.

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I’ll skirt all those troublesome details about time taken, distance covered, pit stops and speeds achieved, to save you the ennui even a die-hard road-tripper such as I can experience every now and then. In fact I’ll do better and keep the destination from you as well. Oftentimes, it just doesn’t matter.

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It was every bit as pretty as I recalled. The semblance of a stone path played hide and seek with pine-needles cushioning it from view. Mossy boulders and fallen trees presented themselves as rest-a-whiles. Avian chirps from above, crunchy leaves underfoot, cicada whirs, and flitting butterflies, the ambient sights and sounds of forest life, trailed us right through.

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Habitation was few and far between–the odd abandoned shelter, a cluster of huts posing as a hamlet, and incredulously enough, a church amidst this entire wilderness. The only other humans we came across were a shepherd tending his tiny flock, a father walking his toddler back from a distantly located school, and a delightful dowager merrily drawing on her hubble-bubble.

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Many hours of steady uphill trudging punctuated by quiet talk, companionable silence, content sighs, complaining muscles, and one wrong turn later, we had crested the walk. It was roughly midway and was going to be mostly downhill from here on. A thick-limbed collapsed tree served as timely luncheon furniture.

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The solitude was briefly shattered by an agitated sheep dog wary of strangers around his bleating wards. But settled down soon enough once certain of our harmlessness. Besides, it wasn’t averse to sharing our meal.

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A few hundred metres into our downward plod the path turned fairly steep and edgy. It stayed that way for the next hour or thereabouts requiring full concentration. Freshly harvested terraces edged by shady groves, our destination, peek-a-boo-ed from afar. When we eventually eased into them, they couldn’t have come a moment sooner for stubbed toes and wincing knees.

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For that matter, nor could have the village teashop. Nothing better than a piping chai to enliven walk-weary forms. Not to mention the enervating joy that springs from an accompanying plate of soupy noodles. All of this and more awaits. Long as you permit yourself that much-needed walk on the wild side!

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