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Cedar Creek Ranger District

Inhaling the cool forest air, the smell of cedarwood was so strong he could taste it. 207,000 acres of wooded hills made up the Cedar Creek Ranger District, far too vast an area for Tom to ever find his way through alone, but following close behind Brandon, Tom felt assured that his companion would guide them safely.


It had only been two days ago that Brandon had suggested they hike the 36 mile Cedar Creek Trail. In truth, Tom wasn’t prepared for the venture, but his desire to experience this place were stronger than any hesitation about proper footwear or how to make a fire. Brandon on the other hand had hiked the Cedar Creek Trail so many times he could practically make the trek blindfolded. An Eagle Scout, he knew all the plants you could and couldn’t touch, the best ways to catch brook trout without a rod, and how to make the warmest of fires from only a handful of sticks. Brandon knew his friend was tired and worn from their trip, but Tom had been the best of sports through it all.


Coming from the big city, Tom never owned a pair of hiking boots, much less dreamt of going outside for any sort of pleasure, but the way Brandon spoke of these woods excited him. Each Monday around the water cooler, Brandon would share his tales of that weekend’s adventure in the woods with anyone that would listen. His eyes sparkled as he told of the family of bears he had seen fishing for trout in his favorite spot, and it was clear that the forest revitalized him after a week in the office.


On Friday, desperate for some sort of entertainment in this bleak town of 20,000, Tom invited Brandon to see a movie with him. 


“I’ve never been to a movie,” Brandon said bleakly “but you’re welcome to join me hiking this weekend."


Still curious what made all those trees and hills of Brandon’s so damn special, Tom agreed to backpack the 36 mile loop through the forest over the next two days.


The first morning of their trip, the two marched for nearly four hours before collapsing next to the creek where Brandon had seen the family of fishing bears. Without hesitation, Brandon waded into the creek bent over with his hands outstretched.


“That’s some weird kinda yoga my friend!” Tom jabbed.

Brandon smiled, but didn’t say anything. moving his hands slowly down in the water, he held very still until

SPLASH!

Before Tom knew what had happened he was doused with the ice cold creek water and a trout bigger than his forearm lay flapping in his lap.


Brandon couldn’t help but double over with laughter when he saw his coworker struggle holding the fish. Like a wet bar of soap, the trout squirmed and shot through Tom’s hands until finally he landed it in the skillet Brandon held outstretched toward him. 


That night, the two dined on some of the finest fish either of them had ever tasted and laughed about the events of that day. When the sun disappeared, Tom was spellbound by the number of stars he could see in the night sky. Never in the city had he been able to see stars like the twinkling space above. Lying there on his pad, Tom thought of all the things he missed in the city that beeped and buzzed, everything that was open 24 hours and all the people that ran about like ants. He thought of all these things and then he thought about Brandon. Brandon had never lived in the city, he was in love with the woods, but now Tom understood why.


When the two finally returned to the trailhead and their cars Sunday night, neither had to ask what the other was thinking. They shared the silence and serenity of the forest for another moment together and then went on their separate ways, knowing they would have much to share at the water cooler the next day.

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