• Heather O'Neal


New Year’s Eve Gourmet Dinner Trek from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti

Dear Adventurers,

I had to share the story of the first of many local TREKS to come. We had such a wonderful time on New Years Eve. I imagine one hundred people will join us next year! This story (below) was written by Odile Hugonot Haber, a neighbor and friend who joined the team for the 14 mile trek from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti on December 31.

New Years Trek from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti 14 Miles December 31, 2003

by Odile Hugonot Haber

Visiting the Himalayan Bazaar in Heather O’Neal’s garage on the corner of Washington and Eighth Street, I heard that Heather was organizing a Trek from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti on New Year’s Eve. Heather usually leads treks through the Himalayan Mountains in Katmandu, Nepal. I was very excited about the idea of trekking in my own back yard. So I responded to the call and there we were at 5 o’clock on New Year’s Eve, assembling ourselves at Heather’s house. Our bags seemed heavier than they ought to be! We were gearing up, ready to brave the elements, so far five women. We were awaiting two more. We had to remind ourselves that we were not going to be spending months and months in the wilderness. Chapstick anyone?

Then we took a picture of our courageous group for posterity. We, Karin Elling, Amy Kuras, Susan York, Dawn Tillbury, Rachel Forringer, Heather O’Neal and I started up Pomona Road at a pretty good pace. In fact to be honest, I, the senior in the group, had to work hard to keep up. It is at moments like this that one realizes one has aged! In our sedentary society it is hard to notice otherwise. So we went up Sunset and down towards M-14. Then we crossed the highway on an overpass to enter Bird Hills Park.

It is especially exciting to be walking in the woods at night with seven women! It made me think of Take Back the Night and legendary folk tales. The woods were silent. The half-moon lit the countryside, and the tree shadows webbed the ground. On top of the hill we paid tribute to one ancient tree, and we walked down the hill arriving on the shore of Barton Pond. The water was partially frozen and reflected the moonlight. All the stars were out too. We had our first brief stop and shared Chai tea, chocolate and cookies. Invigorated we continued towards the dam. I especially enjoyed crossing the river and hearing the water roar under the bridge. It reminded me of the sound of a mountain torrent I had crossed often as a child growing up in the French Alps.

Then we followed a new trail along the Huron River towards Argo Dam which was recently completed by Amy who works for the City Parks Department. We walked two by two. Often groups interchanged. We shared stories and discovered who we were along the road. Soon we were near the Broadway Bridge. We were now back in town, and we could see the city lights in front of us. We crossed the road and hiked toward Island Park. At the park we huddled around a table near the river. Rachel’s headlamp fixed in a tree gave a festive appearance to our picnic. The sight was a little peculiar. Here we were sharing delicious baked Brie, mulled wine, delicious food and recipes in the night, in the wilderness, in front of the hospital — my work place! But the air was cold, and we were getting cold rapidly so we repacked everything and continued towards Gallup Park. Two men joined the party: Kurt Gardner and Ed Brewer, and we were moving swiftly through the park.

Somewhere there I became aware that the tongue of my heavy hiking shoe was painfully squeezing my right foot. This was slowing me down considerably. I was pretending that my foot was not connected to my body, but to no avail, the soreness was increasing. I stopped a few times to readjust my shoe but this did not improve the situation. This is the first wisdom one learns from hiking: take a pair of well broken in shoes. We stopped and shared some smoked salmon.

Then Heather, as a good leader, offered to carry my pack. I was a little ashamed but tired and did not refuse. By now we were crossing Washtenaw Community College, among the buildings and through the woods. We ended up on Clark Road. At this point, I could have called my husband to come and pick me up, but I was not willing to give up yet. I pressed on with the group.

We walked along Eastern Michigan University’s stadium and cut across toward the EMU campus on a tiny little pedestrian road between two neighborhoods. A new trekker, Don Ottens, joined us. At the other end of the little road, we stopped to rest and had some dessert. I remembered that my wise husband had encouraged me to take along my jogging shoes so I switched. I took back my pack since I now felt as if I had wings. I could walk without pain! The help Heather gave me allowed me to regain courage and confidence enough that I could take care of myself again. A good lesson in trekking: help goes a long way.

Then we arrived on the EMU campus which we crossed diagonally. We marched on towards the river along Forest and into Depot Town, our final destination. When we arrived at the Farmer’s Market Building, Heather changed and put on a shinning top and some dancing shoes.

Inside a man was guarding the entrance and Heather explained: “We walked all the way from Ann Arbor. Can we have a look around to see if we want to stay?” He was taken aback and looked at our group. I remember I had my heavy trekking shoes tied around my neck and a big smile on my face. The nice man invited us all in free of charge! It was 11:30 almost midnight.

We were extremely proud of our accomplishment, and we danced late into the night. I was happy to see my husband, Alan, and a friend, Harry Clark, who had come to join us along with a few other friends. At home that night, I realized my pack was full of things I had forgotten, filled grape leaves, rice and dried pineapple. I was sure that between all of us, we had packed enough food to keep us going a couple days more.

I was sore the next two days but what a nice way to start the New Year!

Odile Hugonot Haber

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All