“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean”. John Muir
Hiking is walking, but with way more dirt, and I like both.
Sometimes I like to hike and explore the fauna, scat and tracks. Other times I like to challenge myself and go for a long, steep and difficult hike, my knees pay the next day to be sure, but everything else in my body feels great, sated. Sometimes its a cultural exploration, other times I just need a deep breath. Hiking to a remote bakery in France and hiking to the rim of a volcano in Indonesia are the same thing for me. In my book they both hold great promise and adventure!
I was hiking when I was much younger, but I was unaware it was called hiking. My friend Carla and I would pack our little bags, and high tail it into the hills around our house. Let me premise this by the fact that I was raised semi-feral, most of my generation was. Mom would make us breakfast and then say, “outside, be home by dinner”. We were never asked what happened during the day, it was ours to do with what we wanted. But god forbid if I was ever a minute late for dinner!
My friend and I would spend hours upon hours looking for coyote dens, not a smart idea I know, but at the time it was a great adventure! We would find puddles, and streams, and visit our water friends, and at that time frogs and tadpoles were plentiful. And yes there were also the ticks, snakes, and ground cactus. I never intentionally went looking for those!
My favorite memory from those early hikes though were the rainy day hikes. It would start to rain lightly and I would jump up and call Carla, “wanna go?” YES was always the answer. Up and up we went into the hills around our neighborhood, looking for anything that was interesting. We would climb trees and pretend we were Robinson Crusoe, build mud forts, and have great kid adventures all day in the rain.
But what still brings a smile to my face is the memory and feeling at the end of our rainy day hikes. We would run down through thigh high mustard weed, run and run for at least a half a mile, sometimes stumbling and rolling, but running in the rain, and tall yellow flowers, and that feeling of total freedom and for some reason, safety.
The worst thing that ever happened to us was having to pick ticks off of each other. My Mom would make us strip our clothes off on the front porch, she apparently didn’t want the ticks inside the house. By the way, thanks for that Mom!
Through the years I have had the fortune and/or opportunity to hike on various continents and islands.
From the dry valley’s to the polar plateau of Antarctica, some amazing hiking, frozen but amazing. New Zealand has no lack of knee deep mud, black fly’s or eel’s. Indonesian guides are more than accommodating if you want to hike to the rim of a volcano, flowing lava be damned! Hiking above the tree line can be a bit thin on air. Forests tend to home some of the fiercest apex predators on earth. The French are great at giving you wrong directions on a trail unless you say Bonjour when you’re coming and going. Hiking in the hills around San Cristobal, Mexico, better not show your knees, just sayin! It’s all different all unique all wonderful.
It clears my mind, body, and soul of everything that is not important. I feel free, happy and most importantly, me. The past thirty years I have shared trails with my dogs and children. They are the living beings I care to spend my free time with, so it is all good!
Nancy, happy walking!