Walk a Mile in My Shoes

Today is National Hiking Day. It’s also my husband’s (gulp) 60th birthday and the final day of #HokieHike2020. This was a fundraiser for our alma mater that offered some great swag in exchange for going on a long walk in the woods and then making sure the world knew about it. 

Last I looked, I was the only one from California to officially post, but there were several alumni from the West Coast on there. Some of the photos made me miss hiking on the East Coast, the Blue Ridge Mountains in particular. I have a history with those hills, one that brings me back now and then


A lot of runners also hike, more than hikers who run. Some combine the two and run trails rather than walk them. I’ve cracked too many bones tripping on rocks and roots while running on trails so now I watch my step. It may take me longer, but I’m no longer in a hurry. Not most days.


Saturday was an exception. I had a lot on my plate since I had to postpone my original Hokie Hike due to a weekend of rain that closed all dirt trails. I also had to change plans Saturday morning when our county went into the purple tier and everyone got a little more wigged out with Covid cases on the sharp rise. It didn’t make me head to the coast for that Instagrammable shot from a beach trail—especially with king tides limiting where I was allowed.


That led me to grab my mask, my kid and squeeze in our obligatory hike on a trail just down the street. It’s one of the reasons I stay put despite a growing desire to relocate. Anytime I need to get away, there’s a well-traveled trail to the left, for when I’m alone, and less-traveled one to the right when I’m not. It makes it easy to escape the cramped quarters, chaotic days and business burdens that now surround me (and maybe you too). It helps my mind “breathe” while listening to creeks gurgle, birds chatter, wildlife shuffle through brush. 


Getting out in nature forces you to take a hard look at humanity from a different perspective. An empty bottle of water can spell catastrophe, an abandoned tissue stands out in wooded areas. Our presence is more closely felt when there are fewer distractions. Our thoughts are more easily unleashed when the task at hand is so narrowly defined: Keep moving toward an end point, then turn around or carry on. We are forced to stay in tuned with our bodies, to stay sure-footed and keep our legs and lungs from collapsing.


There will come a day when I can no longer do this, either because I’ve moved or I’ve moved on to the ever after. Between now and then, I look forward to many, many more hikes. Not just today. Not just here. But for now, here and now are just fine.


Photo above from a hike years ago in a Puerto Rican rain forest. By contrast, this one was taken Saturday near my house. 



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