WELLFLEET — I tend to avoid the deep woods during deer hunting season. Which turns out to be a nice change of pace, because you can put together some cool beach and bike trail hikes. Or you can take a break from hiking, watch football and drink beer, and that works out fine, too.
But as we spin into January, beyond deer season, I start to get woods fever. This is likely because I was raised by wolves and spent my teenage years running fiercely through the trees. That’s not true, but I still love the woods.
So I told the Curious Prius it was time to put together our winter hiking kit and head for the wilderness. The Prius glugged down some windshield wiper fluid, and I grabbed my Johnson Woolen Mills Jac Shirt. That trusty coat is like a warm hug from a cheerful Vermonter.
I also donned my permethrin-treated trousers. That’s because every time I’m in the woods, I hear the voice of Larry Dapsis, Barnstable County entomologist, warning me about ticks, even in the winter. The sweet song of Dapsis floats through the trees, praising the tick-battling virtues of permethrin-treated pants, socks and footwear.
The Prius and I sputtered toward Marconi Beach in Wellfleet. We rolled down the wicked long entrance road, which I find a little spooky in the winter. It seems like the kind of road that might attract UFOs with big scoops. But we made it to the vast parking lot, where there was plenty of room for a grand total of three cars.
On a previous meander, I had noticed an informal trail heading south from the parking lot, disappearing into the woods of the Cape Cod National Seashore. This piqued my curiosity, but at the time, I was too busy drinking coffee and listening to sports talk radio to get out of the car. This time I had my tick pants and I was ready for action.
I alighted and plunged into the woods. My old friends, the trees, were glad to see me. They told me about things I had missed, like the Great Chipmunk Rebellion and the very naughty pine. I told them harrowing tales of the New England Patriots.
The trail was narrow, but pretty established. And I kept bumping into side trails, which made me realize there was a lot more to explore around here. But I figured I would head toward the ocean and see if I could add a big vista to the mix.
The trees began to thin out, and all of a sudden I was on the edge of infinity. Or, a really steep sand cliff, somewhere south of Marconi Beach. I could see the bathhouse and two tiny humans walking the beach. Maybe we were the last people on Earth!
Probably not, but a good hike raises all sorts of possibilities. The trail skirted the cliff for a delightful little bit, then suddenly made a beeline back into the mysterious forest.
Soon, I was flat-out lost. The phone signal was crummy, so I couldn’t cheat with Google Maps. I knew I was near the town line and that Eastham had to be down there somewhere. Then I landed on a pretty wide sand road which took me to another spectacular ocean view.
I turned around and looked back into the woods. I thought of the wisdom of great thinkers, like John Muir, who wrote “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness,” and that T-shirt on Etsy that said: “Bring a compass. It’s awkward when you have to eat your friends.”
I was probably about to think deep thoughts, but then my tummy started to rumble. It was time to leave the woods and I had a vital appointment with some leftover chicken teriyaki.
Eric Williams, when not solving Curious Cape Cod mysteries, writes about a variety of ways to enjoy the Cape, the weather, wildlife and other subjects. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on X: @capecast.
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