When you’re younger, the world is a little more magical.
Growing up, my parents often took me on adventures outdoors, and through my European upbringing I learned all about fairies, gnomes and trolls.
Fairies, the legends go, are responsible for all the color you see in the forest, they help with pollination, and when they’re tired they sit on the benches they have made on the side of the trees.
Sometimes they check in with their friends the gnomes, who live in mushrooms that grow in the soil and who help injured small animals heal.
Trolls, on the other hand, are mischievous. They are the ones who cause boulders to slide down mountains and trees to fall.
If you’ve ever stubbed your toe on a tree root even though you could’ve sworn it wasn’t there before, that was probably because a troll was playing a trick on you.
Trolls and gnomes like to sleep late and are a little lazy, but fairies, they are the ones to get out of bed at first light.
So when I took an early-morning hike and saw little white butterflies fluttering through the air, the image of a fairy working hard to make the forest colorful and pristine came to mind.
A trip down memory lane combined with the solitude of the trek made for a great morning.
Every time I’ve wanted to go hiking in the past few weeks something came up — school supplies, birthday parties, visits to Grandma.
It’s easy to make excuses, but I really needed to get back on the trail.
My husband suggested we go to work an hour later and hike in the early-morning hours instead.
So by 5:45, my husband, daughter, dog and I were in the car and headed east on Highway 138. My son stayed home so he could catch the bus to school.
I typically enjoy the drive to a trailhead as much as I enjoy the actual hike. It’s beautiful to see the flowing landscape grow to rugged mountains and the grassy fields to dense forests, but this time it was too dark to notice much of anything.
Because of the darkness, and the fact that we all had to go to school and work, we decided to go on a nearby hike that we were familiar with: Wolf Creek Trail.
When we parked the car, the sun was just rising, but we were glad that we brought flashlights to light the way.
Trees were not letting through much sunlight yet and the trail was dark. Luckily, the beginning part of the trail is also flat and wide.
By the time the elevation started to change rapidly, the light was bright enough that the flashlights were no longer needed.
Little white butterflies fluttered from flower to flower.
When we got to the end of the trail, Wolf Creek Falls, it was light outside.
The falls themselves were much smaller than they were during an April visit. The depth of the pool underneath the waterfall revealed the power of the water barreling down the mountainside.
We sat and enjoyed the crispness of the early-morning air and watched as Zoey and Dixie played near the water.
It was quite the magical morning.