Monday I wrote about alone time and for me this means hiking. So today is a little bit fun, on my signs of a good hike. In Indiana and now (although slightly higher altitudes) I hike 5-6 hours a week (more if I can). I do it recreational on my own terms my own rules, to reconnect with myself. It is something I have grown into. Looking at me growing up, it was there. My outdoors family with my hunting brother and dad, I would do it but I didn’t begin to embrace it until the last several years (funny how that works, how your parents always seem to be right but as a child stubbornness can prevent clear vision). I was like the two girls and their father that I ran into at Turkey Run: Daddy, they should really do something about this mud. Don’t they know that people don’t like it?
So although I’ve developed as a hiker, I am no expert. Frankly when I see hardcore mountaineers, or read their books, they’re crazy. Ice and crevasses and scaling ice walls and Death Zones. Like mountain biking you can count me out, although never is probably not a good application for me. I used to think people jumping out of planes were nuts, but as you can see by exhibit A that I had a change of heart. With all that being said here are ways that you can tell you’re in for a good hike:
- No cell phone service. You are forced into being ‘unconnected’ for the length of your journey. Face-to-face with your own thoughts. For some this may be scary but I embrace it, I know I am truly isolated and I need to take advantage of this time to right my thoughts or to have my most creative ideas.
- Lack of people on the trail or a mostly local crowd. If you want challenge and beauty, the locals know where it’s at. When I went to Yosemite last year, the lower Falls were ridiculously crowded. Paved roads and crowded as far as the eye could see. Take a picture and drive off to the next landmark. They were missing out. I found myself on the secluded Upper Falls trail. I probably saw 15 or less people the entire time and it did push me (and my heart rate), but the view was breathtaking. Although part of the beauty of the view, is the experience getting there.
- Making your own trail/that instinctual feeling that you’re not on the designated trail. Of course there is that initial, “oh shit” thought. But then you are tested. You’ve got to find your internal compass and get back to the trail or get off the mountain. Here I suggest not following your dog if you like staying on the trail. Lulu led me on an animal trail the other day and we had to slide/surf 100’s of feet down the mountain before we found a trail (although she paid for the mistake on the way down, as her short legs did not like the slide). Or maybe intially ‘get lost’. Forge a new trail. Discover something new. Get Lost to Find Yourself, that’s something I’ve personally written about before. Not all those who wander are lost!
- You have to use your whole body. You may need to crawl or use your arms to pull you up (I think it’s obvious that you’re using your legs). You may extend your arms out to help balance you. Use your toes to push off or grip the ground. Believe me hiking can be a full-body experience.
- Have fun! Take the time and enjoy yourself. Let the thoughts and energy flow. Feel and embrace your potential and believe you’re some great expeditioner! Stop for a second to BE in awe and appreciate the moment. To live in bewilderment of the beauty engolfing you!