Archives for category: solo hiking

It’s a simple message. It doesn’t require a lot of words. It doesn’t take any fancy equipment, or elaborate planning or preparation. Just go outside. Get up, step away from the computer, or the television, and put your head – and your thinking – outside the confines of this space.

It’s a challenge, I know, but don’t let yourself drown in the bullshit and drama – even at the congressional level. lol Once you’ve read the coverage once, there’s no special value or extra credit for reading each re-hash of all of those same details. Seriously. News outlets are trying to make money, generate clicks, views, likes, and put their advertisers in front of your eye holes. Advertisers want to sell products. The end goal does not happen to be either truth or accuracy, and it is important to be aware of that.

Go outside.

This is outside.

I’m just saying that there is value in new perspective. There is value in fresh air, sunshine, and even walks in rain showers. There are moments yet left to live – to really live – and most of those don’t happen to become what they could be, seated at a computer, fingers poised over the keyboard, or eyes vague and unfocused as brain candy trickles into one’s visual field.

Also outside.

Some of us don’t have the easy option to “just go outside”, due to physical limitations, illness, literal confinement… things. So – if you’re not in one of those limiting situations, how silly is it to waste the chance? No fooling – the chance to go outside may not exist “forever” (very few things do)… so… What are you waiting for? Get up. Move around a bit. Go outside. Self-imposed isolation has some potentially very unhealthy elements, and…well… outside there are flowers blooming, clouds hanging decoratively overhead or sweeping across the sky, birds, bees, butterflies… There are some lovely sights to see, and paths to wander.

Yep. Outside.

Of course, I write these words speaking from a certain privilege, and I don’t mean to; I’m not plagued by allergies, and I’m still pretty comfortably able to walk, and I don’t immediately burn to a crisp at any hint of exposure to the sun, and… well… I like it outside. lol So, if you have terrible allergies, hate the sun entirely or just crisp up immediately, or can’t put weight on your feet at all, or loathe being outdoors… well, shit. Then I sound like a clueless dick, because I’ve overlooked that we are each having our own experience, and that isn’t at all what I’ve meant to do. Perhaps, instead of going outside, you can distract yourself from the delights of the glowing screen in front of you with a good book, or a conversation with a living person in your actual space, or learn bonsai, or grow a wee container garden, invent a calorie-free-eco-groovy-healthy gummy bear, or… something other than this strange alien digital connection that pumps pre-processed information into your brain by way of your eyes and ears, requiring only that you sit there quietly, scrolling, clicking, viewing, and liking?

That’s really what I am getting at, I think; don’t just let your life pass, sitting there quietly receiving pre-processed, re-hashed, unchallenged information! Make actual use of all the squishy bits stuffed into your cranium! There is a fairly profound difference between “finding stillness within”, by the way, and just sitting still, facing your screen. These are not at all related things.

So.

Go outside. Go outside your comfort zone. Go outside your normal thinking. Go outside your usual routine. Go outside your safe feeling space. Go outside your expectations. Go the fuck outside before the whole of your life is wasted on repetition and distraction. Live your life such that there is something to be distracted from, in the first place. πŸ™‚

This is outside, too.

You know that thing you want to do? Why not go do that? Get a start on it at least, start doing the homework, laying the groundwork, learning all of the things…

How about that stuff you want to know more about… maybe a language you have always wanted to learn, or a place you’ve considered traveling, or something that has always interested you, that you’ve not yet acted on? That’s a nice start, too.

What’s holding you back? Probably the same stuff that holds me back – that holds each of us back; there are verbs involved. Effort. Will. Commitment. The requirement to begin it.

So… ?

Definitely outside.

I sip my cold coffee, wiggling my cold toes in the morning chill. I opened the windows and patio door to cool down the apartment this morning before I was awake enough to recognize that it would not be a warm day. I haven’t bother to close them; I am listening to bird song, feeling the meadow breeze, and watching the cottony gray clouds shift and roil overhead. I’ll finish here and then tidy up a bit; my schedule has changed some, to a later start time for the summer months. Shorter evenings, of course, but… longer leisurely mornings, which I love. I feel very unrushed, which I am enjoying rather a lot this morning. What will my perspective be on the other end of the day, I wonder?

It’s time to begin again… I think I’ll go outside. πŸ˜€

It’s already Monday, already time to get back to the routine routines, and the usual flow of activities of a busy work week. (Seriously? Already??) How is this so damned difficult? I stare into my half empty cup of not-quite-cold coffee and wonder if there is time for another.

All the windows are open to the morning chill. There’s a hot afternoon in the forecast and I am rethinking my choice of work clothes, too. Since I’ve been back from the forest, I’ve been notably less attentive to routines and habits, and existing more “casually”. It feels terrifically relaxed, but realistically may not be sustainable for me, with some of my persistent issues (memory challenges are what they are). I’ve misplaced my badge to get into the building at work… I think I may have left it in the car, which I’ve already dropped off at my Traveling Partner’s place. I grin at my oversight and shake my head. It’s a small thing, not worth becoming stressed over. (I can recall a time when even so small a thing would have sent me over the edge pretty reliably.)

My bare toes are cold, as the apartment cools down. The sweater I thought would be a good idea is still comfortable, but looking into the developing orange and hint of haze in the sky as the sun rises, the sweater is clearly in need of being reconsidered before I leave for work. Practical details. How is life so filled up with practical details and practical questions? How is there ever room left over for wonder or for mysteries? I’m astonished and amazed, and for just one moment wide-eyed with real appreciation for how much minutiae I do manage to keep track of moment-to-moment, day-to-day; life is busy.

What matters most?

I got the rest I needed this past weekend. I’m glad I took the time. This morning I look around my apartment – and my life – with “new eyes”, rested, refreshed, and open to change, and I see some things that are very much change-worthy and quite possibly overdue for it. It’s not always clear where some bit of alteration in life’s course may take things over time. Like a loose thread on a sweater, each dangling bit of something or other I might consider changing is connected with all of the details of my life; change one thing, and things are changed, generally. Pulling on that thread may have consequences as yet unconsidered. Still… change is. I can choose change, or I can allow it to be chosen for me by others, or by circumstances.

It’s an interesting journey, this life thing. I wonder where the next trail leads? The sun is up, it’s a Monday, and it’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

3 days, two nights, one purpose, and I return to my apartment by the park with sore feet, aching muscles, stiff joints, and a smile that Β won’t quit.

3 mosquito bites, two unexplained bruises, 1 blister over 17 miles of trails, and I shot more than 100 pictures, and spotted a rainbow’s worth of different wildflowers in bloom.

I reached my campsite and set up camp well before dusk settled in, on Wednesday evening. I managed more than 4 miles of hiking that evening, just getting my gear to the hike-in camping area, and exploring the nearest trails after making camp.

A coffee well-earned, an evening of quiet.

It rained most of the night, and I laid wakefully, contentedly listening to the rain fall, more than necessarily pleased that my tent doesn’t leak.

The rain-drenched morning didn’t quench my enthusiasm for the day ahead.

I spent Thursday meditating, after morning coffee and a short hike to stretch my legs, and didn’t do much else. I brought a journal to write in, and a notebook, a sketch pad and colored pencils for drawing, my camera, my kindle… and other than my camera, I didn’t touch any of the distractions I brought along to pass the time; I didn’t need them. Time passed just fine without any help from me. πŸ™‚

Given the necessary conditions, I bloom in my own time. It is often enough to sit quietly and allow the moment to unfold.

I spent Friday hiking, departing fairly early in the morning to walk a new path. The trail I chose was sufficiently challenging to push me, lovely enough to be utterly worth it without any other “reason” to go the whole distance, and totally within my ability. I returned to camp in the afternoon, got my boots off, put my feet up, and made coffee. Out among the trees, coffee doesn’t seem to keep me from sleeping, ever, however late I may be drinking it. I bet there’s something to be learned from that…

Where does my path lead? It’s helpful to have a map, but the map is not the world.

…Instead of learning anything about coffee, though, I learned something different. As campers arrived to fill nearby sites for the weekend, I learned that my needs were met, and that I was “done”. I learned that I didn’t really want to sit through a chilly evening overhearing loud conversations about corporate headaches, challenges with the kids’ teachers, or sports. I learned that I didn’t find value in enduring another camper’s choice to bring a generator into the forest for the weekend.

Ultimately, we each choose our own path…

I learned, this weekend, that it really is quite okay to make my choices my way, without any pressure from my own expectations, or anyone else’s; I broke camp late that afternoon, taking my time, packing up skillfully and efficiently without feeling at all rushed. I packed my gear out of the park (taking the same three trips it took to bring it down to the campsite in the first place), still smiling when the effort was completed. I let the park rangers know I was checking out, so they could release that camp site to another camper – it’s a great spot.

The beauty in the world exists whether or not I choose to observe it. My choice to observe the beauty in the world is necessary only to my own appreciation of it.

I got home before the sun set, unpacked enough gear to begin properly unpacking a bit at a time. First, a leisurely shower. A fresh salad. A hot cup of coffee. A moment to begin the upload of all the photographs. No music. No social media. No TV. Patio door open to the breezes and the sound of birdsong. A quiet evening, alone in the stillness, aside from a few minutes checking in with a friend from next door.

Roses blooming on the patio welcome me home, rain-drenched, fragrant, and lovely.

Yesterday I woke, still feeling fairly wrapped in my own purpose, and disinclined to be particularly social. I wrote a dear friend. I unpacked some things. I meditated. I gardened. It was a chilly gray day, and I enjoyed the morning with a crackling fire in the fireplace – which I might also have done if I had remained out in the trees another day. There seemed no urgency to connect to the digital world with any haste – no one was expecting me to, in any case. (Good expectation-setting for the win!) I watched the birds come and go from the feeder.

It was a lovely day of bird-watching.

Here it is, today. (Isn’t it always? πŸ˜‰ ) I figured I’d sleep in… I didn’t. I woke with the dawn. I figured I’d move purposefully down a long list of things I’d like to get done… also not happening, at least not so far. I sip my coffee, smiling softly, watching the birds at the feeder with my laptop balanced on my knees, writing from a slightly different perspective – though whether that is a matter of my laptop, a chilly morning, and cold coffee on the patio, or simply that my perspective remains altered by my time out in the trees is neither known, nor relevant to the experience.

What now? Just this. Isn’t it enough? πŸ™‚

A patio with a view.

One more work shift, and then…

Soon…

I’m overdue for a few days out in the trees. Waking to birdsong Taking long leisurely walks that turn into vague concerns about being sufficiently up to the challenge and finish with a feeling of accomplishment – and laughter. Getting by on my own preparedness and self-sufficiency. Watching small forest creatures live their lives. I’m overdue, too, for being too hot, too cold, and having too many bug bites… yep. All of it. The aches, the pains, the moments of doubt, too. I’m down for all of that. The wakeful bits during the night, hearing something in the darkness, feeling uncertain – I’ll manage. I’ll enjoy the hiking, the reading, the sketching, the writing, the taking of pictures, and cooking by a fire. I’ll enjoy the stillness of unmeasured time. I’ll frustrate myself with the one thing I managed to forget – whatever that turns out to be, I’ll think I really really needed that.

Nights may be “too” cold.

Mornings I may feel stiff.

Yoga in the dirt? Eww… or… Meh. Okay. It’s really not a big deal. πŸ˜€

Ants… bees… spiders… mosquitoes…

Miles of trails.

Hours of quiet.

Measured distance from everything else that brings me closer to the woman in the mirror – no mirror required.

I’ll be back soon – Sunday, sometime, most likely. Then? I begin again. πŸ˜€

The destination is the journey.

I woke easily this morning. Well, actually, I woke easily several times between midnight and 4 am, when I actually got up. I stood in the shower far longer than actually necessary, just enjoying the sensation of warm water on bare skin. I meditated, on my cushion in the open doorway of the patio, wrapped in pre-dawn breezes, just a little bewildered by the darkness (in spite of how commonly it is indeed fully dark before the sun comes up).

I sipped my first coffee, almost gone now, the remnants quite cold, as I scrolled through my Facebook feed. I notice that one particular friend keeps getting my attention with shares that hit my nerves in a very unpleasant way. I do react – and my reaction is this; I unfollowed that friend, and looked up the page that seems to be the source of most of the problematic content, now blocked at the source. Just that. I’ll bring it up directly with them later and discuss honestly.

…I pause with some wonder to observe that neither “unfriend” nor “unfollow” are yet in my dictionary. Those both seem to me to be proper 21st century verbs, so I make a point of adding them to my dictionary.

Today is a common enough work day, a Tuesday. I expect it to be busy; it is both the Tuesday following a holiday Monday, and it is also the Tuesday in a very short week during which I will go camping. I’ve no idea what the day holds, beyond work. Maybe I see my Traveling Partner, maybe I don’t. In either case, I’ll likely end up with the car tonight, and the hope is to leave straight from work for my camping trip, later this week. You’ll have to find new reading material for a few days… πŸ˜‰ I’ll be back at it, probably sometime Sunday.

I feel myself “shifting gears” into a much more “now” state of mind, which brings my attention to the potential that I’d drifted farther from day-to-day mindfulness, generally, than I may have understood. Hmm… The camping trip seems needful and well-timed. My monkey mind begins to fret a bit about being out in the trees, no connection, no social media, no news of the world, just a woman, a consciousness, some gear, and a series of moments to experience wrapped in forest. I need this chance to reset – to begin again, on another level. I am hungry to satisfy appetites that have gone without attention for too long. I am ready to walk new trails, and to pause for thought. I am ready to take my leisure – because there’s nothing else on my agenda.

I feel, very briefly, a hint of the momentary anxiety that will come and go while I am away from home; it’s one of the reasons I do go. If I can avoid dealing with some sorts of things entirely, I totally will – to my detriment. Being out among the trees, alone in the forest, more or less completely self-reliant (let’s be real; I’ll be in state park, it’s not that remote, and I’ll even have the car if an emergency arises) sort of forces me to deal with all of the things. Nonnegotiably, I am without distractions. It’s why I go. It’s even why I hike; I’m out there to be alone with myself, undistracted by the many choice distractions modern life offers. It’s one part of me “finding my way” – literally translating a journey of heart, soul, and healing into miles of walking, a journey on foot.

An associate of mine uses origami instead, and his journeys are depicted in paper sculptures, tiny, bright, and entirely beautiful. Even his monsters are adorably cute, rendered in paper. There are a lot of ways. He has found his. I have found mine. Have you found yours?

The sky lightens, finally, and I see the reason for the intense early morning darkness. The day is cloudy. The sky is padded and puffy with dark gray clouds, no break between them. The sound of traffic is muffled. I remind myself to pull my rain poncho out of my camping gear. It looks like it may rain. It would be rather silly to be unprepared for it, because I was preparing for something else, later. lol

Well… it looks like time to begin again. Shall we?