Ellen Munds and I have been planning this adventure for more than a year. It was always a conflict of schedules or the weather was bad or some other reason. Ah, but last weekend the planets aligned, the moon came into her waxing gibbous phase and the plan was set in place.

What plan, you ask? The plan was to take our bikes to the Pumpkinvine Trail in Elkhart and LaGrange counties. As the weekend approached, I told everyone of the plan. I think it was more for reinforcement that I could do this. Nate and Aimee Simons (my new neighbors) said, “Piece of cake. We have done that before.” Well, that was good to know. Kathy has biked with Morgan 15 miles or more to Pokagon and back on the bike trail. Yes, but that is Kathy! She said, “You can do this.” OK then, plan set in motion.

Ellen arrived on Friday. We spent a couple of hours at the Hatchery outside on the patio. The weather was perfect as Carolyn joined us, talking about everything until we got to the reason for the visit. “I have always wanted to do this,” Carolyn replied, “can’t wait to hear all about it.”

Now that everyone knew, it must happen. Saturday morning dawned beautiful. It was warm and sunny. We packed our satchels with water and masks, loaded the bikes on Ellen’s bike rack and headed to Shipshewana. We were heading right for the trail, but we got a little side tracked with the Rise ’n Roll Bakery. Somehow, the car just headed right for the parking lot. Adorning our faces with masks, we headed inside and bought doughnuts and jam and raspberry pie. How could we not?

Back out in the car, we ate a few of the doughnuts. We needed more fuel for the long day ahead of us and headed to the bike trail. Our GPS was a bit confused as there are several parking locations on the trail. We finally settled on the one in Middlebury. We parked the car, pulled down our bikes, put on our helmets and we were off. At that very moment, I thought to myself, “Oh my, I am a real biker chick now!”

We had to cross a few streets before we reached the long stretch of woods. All of a sudden, I fell into this zone of pure bliss. Maybe some folks would call this the moment of deep meditation. As I biked through this area, nothing mattered but the sights, the sounds and the smell of nature. With a nod or a wave to other bikers, we rode in silence. And just like that, we were in Shipshewana with 8.5 miles accomplished. As we pulled into town, I thought to myself, we look like real biker chicks now. (If only I had looked into a mirror!) We did some shopping, hung out in the beautifully decorated plaza and then headed back.

What we did not realize is that there is the slightest bit of decline on the trail from Middlebury to Shipshewana, which meant there was the slightest bit of incline going back. To be perfectly honest, I thought I would have to be airlifted off the last two miles of the trail, but I finally made it. We loaded our bikes and headed to the Essenhaus. This was Ellen’s first trip to the area so we had to stop there. Lucky for us, there was no waiting. Later (after I looked in the mirror) I decided they did not want us waiting around!

We reached home by nightfall. Took showers and did some bragging. I sent photos to my kids with bragging rights of biking 17 miles in one day. As I look back at it, I know it was a marvelous experience. The trail was beautiful with not a piece of litter anywhere. The folks biking or walking were friendly and happy.

The entire trail is 25 miles with seven wooden-trestle bridges, 31 species of wildflowers. Elkhart County Parks, Goshen Parks and Recreation, Middlebury Parks and Recreation and the Town of Shipshewana manage the trails.

For those of you who have always wanted to do this, what are you waiting for? It is lovely. It is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. You can always invite me to go with you!

I loved it so much I decided to join the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. We are so fortunate here in northern Indiana.

Lou Ann Homan-Saylor can be contacted at locketof time@aol.com.

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