Archives for category: solo hiking

I enjoyed my recent days of camping quite a lot. I went alone into the forest, and I spent my hours and days in solitude. It was lovely. I went out figuring that the primary activity would be, with fair certainty, a lot of hiking. I was so wrong about what I needed (and possibly, also about “who I am” in some sense). I spent by far the majority of my time simply sitting in quiet meditation – no real “activity”, at all – gazing into the leaves, and into the sky, and through the forest, into the trees.

The perspective I had been seeking turned out to be, generally, very near where I had pitched my tent.

I mean, sure, I put some miles on these boots, no question, more than 5 miles a day, on lovely trails, some shaded, some sunny, and enjoyed each step, and each new observation.

Each step along this path has been worthy in it’s own distinct way, although I don’t always see it at the time I take the step, and the way ahead is not always obvious.

I returned home aware that in any practical regard, what I was seeking turned out to be something I took into the forest with me. It’s built on my every day meditation practice. It was much more obvious, after a few days of any-time-at-all-no-timer-no-clock meditation practice that what I was feeling in the weeks leading up to my camping trip was, perhaps more than anything else, simply that my practice had become inconsistent day-to-day, and I had begun choosing to use my time quite differently, while allowing myself to feel I was “still practicing” (well, sure, in a hit or miss, “only most days, sort of, but not always” sort of way) – and the practical reality was, in fact, that I wasn’t practicing with the consistency that is very much a feature of practice, itself. Well, damn.

…I’d love to enthusiastically chime in, right about here, with something wholly encouraging about “beginning again”, and while, yes, sure, that’s a thing I have going for me, any time, the truth is also that I rather annoyingly allowed myself to be bamboozled by my monkey-mind, always so eager to embrace the next distraction. A “simple” course-correction on this path still requires a healthy dose of verbs, something beyond intention, real decision-making, commitment, and oh, right, following that? Action. Repetition. Practice. (You know, the doing kind of practice!) I smile with some patience and familiarity; I’ve been here before. I’m entirely made of human. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee contentedly, this morning. Meditation wasn’t “easy”, this morning; getting up from the cushion was difficult with my right arm still partially impaired by my recent injury. It was a weird and irritating counterpoint to the pleasantness of meditation, itself, and a reminder of the value of self-awareness for practical purposes. Life lesson? Succinctly? “Slow down. Take the time you need. Approach each task mindfully, committed to, and present in, this moment.” Yep. This is me; learning as I go, repeating each lesson as needed. LOL

I take a moment for gratitude, and thoughts of blue skies, green forests, and summer sunrises – because the value in such moments goes beyond what I can capture in a photograph. πŸ™‚

I take a last swallow of my coffee, as I consider how best to make room for 10 minutes of meditation during my work day, too. I’m certain of the value in it, although I’ve been less than skilled about making the time materialize in my day. I return to the office with a measure of commitment to it that I’ve previously lacked, and thoughts of opening the idea up to my team; we’d likely all benefit from a moment to collect our thoughts, each day, if nothing else.

…And…oh, hey… already time to begin again. πŸ˜€

I arrived home from my camping trip filled with a sense of ease, and a sense of purpose. Recharged. Restored. Ready. I got what I needed from my time away, and felt fulfilled and satisfied.

I spent rather a lot of time gazing at the many shades of green displayed in the forest on a sunny day.

I felt fit, and accomplished. I walked miles of trails I greatly enjoy. I sat so quietly, for sufficiently long, to coach chipmunks and squirrels to come quite near. I saw deer, and snakes. I even saw a “mountain beaver” – a small mammal I’d never seen before, and didn’t know even existed until I saw it, and asked a passing forest ranger about (and then later, looked it up online for more information). Pretty splendid, generally, and very satisfying time away; I returned home content and, yes, happy.

While I was putting away my gear, I lost my balance and fell, crashing to the concrete floor of the garage with a painful cry, a loud clatter, and a thud. I’d have burst into tears, but struggled to draw a breath; the fall knocked me breathless. I further struggled to get up, surrounded by miscellaneous crap stored in that corner of the garage, some of which toppled onto me. It wasn’t helping that I could not use my right arm… at all. Weird. Painful. Frustrating to go from such a profound high to such a painful low, and so unexpectedly (and quickly). I felt stalled, diminished, and frankly rather strangely terrified (perhaps due to the painful reminder how fragile life actually is?).

My Traveling Partner helped me out with some skillful basic first aid. A weird dizzy trip to the local drugstore followed – yes, I actually thought I was “fine” to drive… one handed (and missing the use of the arm that takes care of things like the gear shift. (What the fuck, seriously? What was I thinking??) I needed a sling for my arm, and more ice packs. I don’t specifically remember striking my head when I fell, but by the time I got home from the store, it was clear that I may have; I needed help at the store, because I couldn’t “navigate” the product aisles to find the slings and ice packs. Things weren’t making sense as they commonly do. Damn it.

…I was super happy to make it safely home. My partner has been helpful, kind, and loving, with minimal affectionate teasing about roughing it for days without difficulty and then getting hurt putting my gear away. I’m laughing about it, too, honestly. It’s … very “me”.

My shoulder hurts. It’s already beginning to feel some better, slowly, although it’ll likely be weeks before I have full use of it (range of motion, and strength) back. My body hurts, and I’ve got some amazing bruises, but… I’m okay. There’s a lot to work with here, and a lot to learn from. Chances are, if I’d felt somehow less “restored” and “fulfilled”, and a tad less merry, while I was putting away my camping gear and unloading the car, I’d have been more cautious, more attentive, and less likely to “throw my weight around” – in a fairly literal sense – and possibly have avoided that fall. It’s not the first time I’ve “fallen hard” (literally or metaphorically) when I felt seriously deeply happy. “Happy” can sometimes be a risky distraction from practical matters immediately at hand. It’s an experience I could use more practice with. lol

I smirk at myself, and sip my coffee – left-handed. I notice that my cup is on the wrong side of my desk to do that easily, setting me up for future spilling of coffee. I correct the location of my coffee cup, and let that go.

I’m sore all over, some of it from camping and hiking, most of it from taking a bad fall after returning home. Over the days to come, I’ll hurt less, and hopefully gain wisdom (and experience points) through healing and reflection. Choosing my path is only a beginning; walking it is where the value lies, and there are verbs involved, and – clearly – my results vary. LOL

Once we choose our path, we’ve still got to walk it. The journey is the destination. πŸ™‚

I look at the time, and finish my coffee. It’s a good opportunity to begin again. πŸ™‚

These days I seem wholly contented more often than not. Days sometimes slip by, without noticing I have not written a word, and life feels generally very pleasant within the limited context of my own experience. (Admittedly, when I look beyond that limited lifetime, I see so much struggle, so much pain, and so much unpleasantness, it is hard not to avert my gaze.) Even this lovely life filled with balance and quiet joy holds opportunities to improve, to love more skillfully than I do, to take care of myself more skillfully that I yet know how, and to be of greater service to hearth, and home, and community. Growth gets more complicated, it seems, the more contented I am. πŸ™‚

My gear is packed, with the exception of the clothes I’ll be wearing, and a handful of things that I put through the wash yesterday, and an Rx that I’ll drop in my bag after I take it before bed tonight. I’ll leave for the office tomorrow morning, and head to the camp site after work. I was more ready than I realized, and there were few purchases to make; even my stores of camping food were in good supply and had been kept reliably well-thought out to support a trip to the trees without major shopping (they double as “emergency supplies” between camping trips, creating an ongoing incentive to keep them well-stocked all year).

I’m excited to be out in the woods, camping among the trees, listening to birdsong and breezes. I’m looking forward to uncomfortable hours of self-reflection, meditation, and study. I’m looking forward to thoughtful sketches of small flowers, and reading books I haven’t started yet. I’m looking forward to shameless napping in the heat of the afternoon, lulled to sleep by the buzzing of various insects. I’m looking forward to moments of insecurity, fearfulness, and doubt, and feelings of uncertainty, and inadequacy, and the feelings that follow all of those, when I master them in those moments, and feel my sense of ease and assurance return. I’m eager to sit down “face to face” with the woman in the mirror, and have a chat (figuratively speaking); I find camping exceedingly useful for brushing away the distractions, and really getting focused on the things I need to face, and deal with. I could be a better human being than I am right now, this morning – this journey (and practice) is a way to get there. πŸ™‚

I am also just… tired. Cognitively fatigued. Weekends, however chill and relaxing, aren’t quite enough at this point to get me the deep cognitive, emotional, and intellectual, rest that I need so badly. Nearly every moment, of most any day, is filled from start to end with interactions, and human voices, and this, that, or the other thing pinging on my consciousness. I need a break from all of that, long enough to get properly rested, in order to really grow and benefit from all that I am exposed to, and all that I have learned. πŸ™‚ My ‘brain buffer” is full. Sleep isn’t enough to clear it. I’m sometimes cross with frustration that results from nothing more than feeling persistently distracted and overloaded. “Too much”.

So, tomorrow… well, from the perspective of write here, I guess today. Tomorrow I’ll be finishing loading the car (it’s mostly already loaded), and double-checking that I have coffee, my bee sting kit, and any medication I may need, and adequate cash for picking up a bundle of firewood from the camp hosts up the road. 4 nights out. 4 days. Long enough to really appreciate the luxuries life routinely makes available (through not having them) and long enough to have to push past personal demons queuing up for attention, and to have to kick aside any “baggage” in my way, on a path of self-reflection, re-calibration, and rest. πŸ™‚

I expect to return with pictures of flowers, sunsets, blue skies, paths ahead of me, and moments. I expect to return with a clear heart and sense of purpose. Expectations can be huge buzzkills in real life, so I sip my coffee, smile, and let those go. πŸ™‚ It’s enough to be here, ready to go there, and to let that be what it is, when the time comes. πŸ™‚ For now? It’s just a Monday morning, over coffee, and it’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Sipping coffee, planning for camping, and feeling contented; it’s a pleasant start to the morning. πŸ™‚ I’m excited about my camping trip – and it’s almost here! Next week. Whether I write or not, I’ve no idea, I do know there’s no cell signal available through much of that large beautiful hike-able acreage. Just… none. If my recollection is correct, there’s a hint of a bit of a signal now and then, but only at this one particular spot, and it’s a trek of a couple miles (uphill) to reach it, and it’s not reliable…so… I most likely won’t be posting during that time, regardless whether or not I do write. πŸ™‚

Honestly… lots of past posts to explore, and it’s not as if I’m truly writing wholly original content, is it, since I generally write the same things, most days… drinking coffee… breathing… good self-care… choices, verbs, practicing practices, and beginning again… right? πŸ˜‰ Don’t let yourself down on my account; I’ll be right back. πŸ˜€

There are paths yet to be explored – where will yours take you?

I’m eager for the break in routine, and for the days and nights among the trees. I’m eager to hear bird song, and not traffic, and the loud peeps and chirps and calls of chipmunks and squirrels, instead of the conversation of commuters and random human beings out in the world. I’m eager to read the weather, the actual weather, instead of the news. πŸ™‚

I remind myself not to forget coffee!

I have a list of gear I need to either double-check that I do still have it, or pick it up before I go. I keep adding things to it, and crossing things off. I enjoy camping much more when I am prepared…and I also enjoy traveling light, and without excessive weight or baggage dragging me down. I’ve got a list that makes sense. It’s an observation that doesn’t last long when the next question hits me…

…What if it rains?

I laugh so hard I snort coffee, which is less than pleasant, but now I’m giggling; I literally haven’t made any specific effort to plan for any sort of significant rain. It’s August. Why would it rain? Only… it may, and it could, and it’s been known to happen, and… it’s in the forecast. lol So…?

Like a lot of life’s circumstances, preparedness makes an easier journey, for sure. Also like life, and circumstances, it’s not particularly easy to be prepared for all of everything that could be part of my experience than I might want to… while also traveling light, and keeping baggage to a minimum. The more I am inclined to carry, the more verbs (and effort) will be involved in the journey, itself, and the more there will be to manage, deal with, juggle, find space for, when I arrive at my destination. There are choices to be made. Some circumstances are best accepted, than prepared for in advance in any notable way. (I’m not actually saying rainfall is one of those, I mean… it’s possible to shove rain gear into my backpack without adding a ton of weight to my gear!)

Don’t let a little rain stop you. πŸ™‚

Anyway. Rain is a thing that happens, even in August. I’m giggling because I enjoy the rain… but… I also dislike being soaked to the skin, catching a chill, and miserable because all my gear is soaked. lol There are definitely choices to make, and planning is a useful tool for making them. I give some thought to the rain, and my list, and make some adjustments to also account for chilly nights, and dewy cold mornings. Will I be warm enough? Cool enough? Dry enough? Will I have coffee for the mornings? Will I want paper books, or digital books? Don’t forget to bring a towel! What about tea? Broth? It’s nice to have something hot to sip on that isn’t loaded with caffeine – or sugar. What about sleep…? Do I want my cot, or an inflatable something or other? (I already know I don’t much feel like sleeping directly on the ground, on a thin sleeping mat; I’ll be out there for 4 nights.)

Everything I take on this journey, I’ll have to carry, myself.Β That’s a hell of a metaphor, right there.

I look at the time. Yeah. Already. I smile, and finish my coffee, and put aside my list. Same path, different day. I smile, and grab my keys, and my backpack, and get ready to begin again. πŸ˜€

I woke early. I could have slept more, but waking so close to when my alarm goes off and then going back to sleep nearly always finds me struggling to escape sleep when the alarm finally does go off, and I sometimes then struggle for the better part of the day with feeling groggy and disconnected. It’s a less than ideal experience, so… I got up.

In the kitchen, when I approached the counter to make my morning coffee, I noticed there was already a mug there, with the pour over filter still sitting atop the mug, with used grounds in it. I carefully lifted it from the mug and found a full, untouched, long-cold, cup of coffee sitting there. For me? Well… probably not by intention, but… there it is. πŸ™‚ A convenient circumstance. Coffee for me, quiet for my sleeping Traveling Partner. I don’t at all mind that it is a room temperature-not-quite-cold cup of coffee. It is well-made, and satisfying. I say a silent thank you to my partner for his effort, and his lost interest in this tasty and convenient coffee.

I noodle around on the internet awhile, without clear words for the thoughts in my head, this morning. I poke around camping supply websites; my first camping trip of the summer, this year, is next week. I take a second look at my packing list. I look at maps, rather pointlessly; it is too early to spend this much time on such a distant view of such familiar trails. lol I’m not exactly wasting time, but I’m not using it skillfully, or productively. I tackle a couple of errands; things that need to go into the mail today, an “old-fashioned” seeming task now, that once felt very routine.

I avoid the news, this morning, because frankly, it just isn’t good. The quantity of hate, of racism, of misogyny, of violence… it’s just too much. I’m not exactly averting my eyes from it, I just prefer not to make it part of every moment of my limited leisure time. I’m fairly disappointed by humanity pretty quickly, if I spend too much time reading the news. Besides, there really are positive things going on… in my own life, if not plentifully in the world. Finding those positives matters so very much!

I sip my cold coffee and consider the positives…

I’ve been slowly and steadily losing weight since the beginning of the year, and the dietary and fitness changes I’ve been making (and maintaining) are also making me feel generally in better health. πŸ™‚

Having my partner move back in with me is pretty fun. I enjoy his company, his humor, his affection – and he helps out a bunch. Having a proper partnership between mutually supportive adults kicks ass, and life feels less lonely. πŸ™‚

I’ve been enjoying getting back out onto local trails, exploring, enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, and bird and bunny sightings. πŸ™‚

I enjoy my work, and no longer feel as though 100% of the time I spend on “gainful employment” is also wholly wasted life time. πŸ™‚

My emotional and mental wellness seems pretty good these days. πŸ˜€ That’s huge. It took a long fucking time to get here – the effort was well worth it.

I mean… short list, on a work morning, and I’m grateful to have so much to appreciate in life. Seriously better to focus on the positives this morning than to dive into news articles highlighting human violence and suffering. I don’t need help to recognize the magnitude of the problem; the weight of it pulls on me, every moment. :-\ We gotta do something about that… (vote).

…Well… coffee’s gone. πŸ™‚ Time to get a new day started properly… I suppose I’ll begin again. πŸ˜‰