Sundown fell yesterday and found me yet several miles deep in the forest. As I was carrying a bowie, I could have built a lean-to, made a bed of spruce boughs and made a warm fire with some nearby quartz. But I also had a compass and flashlight, so I decided to hike out. It would only take an hour, more or less.
But navigating through forest by night is tricky. There are few visual references, and even upon a clear night–such as last night–one cannot see the stars. So it was I progressed north knowing eventually it would take me to the valley of the Rusalka Brook where I would intersect a dirt road, which I could easily hike back to the Hollow. The forest was eerie and beautiful by night. Every tree seemed to possess a life of its own, and sometimes I could swear there were none too distant voices. And, as luck would have it, I stumbled upon a trail I had not before known, a beautiful trail over which ancient maples and birches and elder tamaracks arched and leaned in, as if they sought to swallow the small incursion of mortal folk. I had the sense of meandering into a faerie tale, and kept expecting to meet a dreaming witch or the Big Bad Wolf or perhaps little Red herself.
I was almost saddened when the trail opened out to the dirt road, to leave behind that enchanted place. Such treasures lie in every forest; they all whisper of the elder and the eldritch. Such wealth is in every forest–old lore and secret things and forgotten ways. Every forest is beyond value.