Mount Van Hoevenberg Hiking Guide Important Information
2.2 Miles To The Summit
2.2 Miles Back Down
Note: The information is just an approximation.
Start Of The Journey
I knew from the silence that anything could happen here. There was stillness in the air and could not find a single trace of people on the trail. The wind did not blow, the forest did not dance, the birds did not chirp, even the clouds did not seem to move. I started the hike late, around 3 PM, it was not the smartest thing to do as I felt the sun’s warmth slowly disappearing and my apprehension grew minute after minute. Darkness over unknown land could mean anything and would not want to find out what lurks behind the shadows in the night. I looked at my phone, checked the weather, there was a chance of shower around 6 PM. I trudged on. My circumstance was not the best I could have had but I was prepared to receive it and prepared to work my way through it. At least, I hoped I was.
I picked up the pace, once inside the forest, the light grew dimmer as if it was being engulfed by the darkness. The gigantic tall trees blocked the rays of the sun, leaving the trail with shadows and ghostly figures at the corner of my eyes. I walked turning and listening to the stealthy shadowy woodland noises, rattling of the bushes, falling of branches, wind humming its way to the forest, stones rolling down the path, and various noises I could not make out of. I was alone and my mind often turned to the shadowy black shapes near the trees that seemed to be following me.
Danger is always real whenever a person is hiking. It is part of the unknown. Bears, snakes, animals, other people, weather and etc., all can bring misfortune to anyone who underestimates them. I checked my bag, I had lots of sandwiches, 2 high powered flashlights for night time, 1 spare battery for my phone, a power bank, ropes, a mace meant for bears, a small rain poncho, maps, a horn and a small bag of first aid kit. I was prepared. At least, I think I was. I had to be, my life may depend on it.
Hiking Trail Clearing
The trail led to a marsh with lots of dead trees standing like pillars, brown weeds and thorny shrubs loomed up through the shadows like garbage or trash on a sidewalk that nature did not want. There was a pond in the middle; a pool of water so murky and muddy that all qualities of beauty seemed to have drowned and have died from it. I stepped on to the earth, and mud enveloped my boots. I kicked and swayed my legs hoping the soil would fall down but it stuck to the shoes like glue and would not let go. Still I moved on, determined to get my reward which was to see the summit or vista that I was promised to have.
I gazed at the afternoon sun as it shined its bright rays over me at the marsh. It was warm, comforting and cast off the shadows that surrounded me as if they were like ashes that crumbled and vanished in mere moments. I was greeted by warm “Hello” and “Good Afternoon” as people from the summit were trekking back to the parking lot. A father and mother with their kids, a couple of college students, and tourists that wanted to try hiking, greeted me in the footpath. The trail that was eerie and desolate turned into a familiar and friendly path. The familiar sunshine, hikers, and smiles on people’s faces gave me comfort, a soothing atmosphere, and a sense that the hike is starting over again.
Mount Van Hoevenberg Summit
The sun burst suddenly among the clouds, sending light at a patch of earth in the never ending wilderness in front of me. The colorful trees at the spot sparkled brilliantly. As the clouds wane, multiple trees on the earth radiantly lit up as well as if one person set fire to a beacon or held a flashlight and then to be answered by thousands and thousands of other people. How beautiful it was to see the land before me radiate in bright cheerful glow and to see the sun illuminate the area as if the scenery was bestowed only for me like I was blessed and highly favored by someone from above. The sweet breath of the autumn wind made the leaves flutter, the trees swayed back and forth, and the white clouds moved to give way to the clear blue sky. There was a freedom and freshness to the wind as it came rolling to the mountain summit and blowing my hair back. It was strong yet gentle, cold yet comforting, and exciting but also relaxing. As if it brought in a new time or new era where peace and prosperity reign over the lands. It was one of those instances where I am fully alone and I am fully enjoying the moment as well.
I looked at the scenery and my thoughts often moved towards fear, uncertainty and dangers of hiking if I ever go forward with my plans. I was never afraid of dying. When do men die? Do they die when they stop breathing? Do they die when someone shot them in the head or a dagger through their backs? Do men die when they get a terminal disease? Do they die when they eat a poisonous meal? Literally, I will say ‘yes’ to all of these questions. Men fear death so they avoid everything that can harm them and most men are even afraid of things that are not real or things that only exist in their heads. But most men die way before their time. When a man can no longer go for the things he wants, he is already rotting inside whether it is because of injury, illness, or the most common one which is lack of courage.
Shakespeare once said, “Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.” Danger maybe real but fear may not be real. Fear often times live in our heads. We are so busy living in our heads that we forgot to live our lives. If I want something, I go get it. Just do it. Money, relationship, lifestyle, car, house, fame and fortune? I go get them. I don’t let fear, pain and agony stop me. I don’t give up, don’t falter, keep trying, stand up, I may bleed, but I keep going, keep striving, never give up, never surrender, it is within my reach.
Look forward and keep moving. Retreat and I will rot and die a thousand deaths, stand still and time will be wasted until I am old, hesitate and opportunities will pass me by, but if I shout it, move forward and fight for it then a confident warrior inside me will be born. I do not fear death, I fear I have not lived good and strong enough. I fear that whatever kind of warrior spirit or confident man or amazing opportunities will not be born if I don’t fight for them now.
Pond In Mt. Van Hoevenberg Trail
As I followed the trail back to the parking lot, the pond that I thought was pure pile of repulsiveness transformed into something new. It was unexpected but truly welcomed by my eyes. The pond with no name that I thought was pure garbage dazzled in intense colors as it reflected the mountains, colorful trees, the sky and everything surrounding it. I was stunned and shocked that something so utterly ugly could become something somewhat beautiful. It was like the story of the ugly duckling where the duck turned into a beautiful swan. The lake with brown hellish weeds, dead trees and muddy waters became bright, shiny, and stunning under the setting sun.
It was the last view of the hike as I got back to the woods again. The path was darker, lonelier and the silence was deafening. However, the path seemed friendlier, familiar, and safe. The shadows that surrounded me were cold but not the type of cold that is lonesome, the type of cold where you walk into the shore of a beach with sands on your toes and the wind passing you by. The type of cold that is comforting. I happily went on my way without fear nor any type of worries.
Looking back, it was only when I got out of my comfort zone and started fighting for the things that I want in my life that I truly lived. I wouldn’t be here writing this story and I wouldn’t be hiking at all if I stayed at my comfort zone. I have made the decision to let my heart navigate my life, my mind which is full of fear will have no word or say in the matter. My mind’s main function is to prepare; prepare the knowledge, the body, the mental strength, supplies, money, connections, resources and whatever I need for the journey that the heart wants to embarked on. Even though I fight an intense and brutal war on the outside, many people want to see me fail and I have no idea when I will succeed, the world within me trembles not even in the slightest bit.