Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Take a Hike!

            One of my favorite vacation destinations is Sedona, Arizona. I’ve visited numerous scenic venues in the US (and a few abroad), but I contend that for awe-inspiring views Sedona can’t be beat. Whether you’re on top of a mountain, at the bottom of a canyon, or shopping the tourist-crammed streets of “Uptown Sedona,” jaw-dropping vistas are just a matter of turning or tilting your head.
View from a Sedona summit
            With so much rugged beauty to be absorbed, it naturally follows that hiking is a popular activity in the area. And that is the main activity Bill and I pursue whenever we visit. Mind you, I’m not talking Walk Across America or Wild, here. No coast-to-coast or Pacific Rim trek with all our worldly possessions strapped to our backs. For the most part, our hikes range from three to six hours in the coolest or warmest part of the day, depending on the season. And they always end with a long soak in a hot tub and a good night’s rest in a comfy bed.
            But even wuss hikes such as these provide time and opportunity for inspiration and reflection. So on a recent one in Sedona, I “reflected” on rules for hiking and living.
For basic hiking equipment,
the basic stick is hard to
beat. (Is that a pum?)
Be prepared. Spontaneity has its place, but most endeavors in hiking—as in life—are more fully enjoyed if you take a tip from the Boy Scouts and prepare. The preparation doesn’t have to be elaborate. I’ve found the basic essentials to be plenty water and the right attire. Protection from the elements is a must as are comfortable shoes. (There are occasions in life where comfort can be sacrificed for a really smokin’ pair of shoes, but hiking isn’t one of them.) Also, take along a small emergency kit (think blisters, bug bites). I’ve become a fan of the walking stick. Whether it’s a carved and varnished one, a high-tech metal one, or one picked up along the trail, a stick can be a life-saver for knees. And a camera! Take a camera to help preserve memories.
My favorite hiking partner.
Share the trail (but occasionally go solo). I think most people will agree that new experiences are more fun when they’re shared. Plus, there’s safety in numbers. But ever so often, a solitary sojourn can be relaxing and soul-satisfying. On a familiar, easy trail, or on a portion of a longer one, go it alone and see what a difference it makes. (I got the idea for this post while I journeyed solo on a portion of a trail.)
Be open to a variety of experiences. It’s weird the way my and Bill’s preferences reflect our personalities. He likes to climb “above” the action and take in sweeping vistas. (I think it’s a “master of the universe” thing). I, on the other hand, enjoy the “coziness” of canyon hikes. (I know it makes no sense, but, for me, canyons seem to require less climbing.) We compromise and do both and have learned to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of both types of trails.
Notice the details...
Take time to notice. For most of my life, I’ve been a “get-‘er-done” kind of person. When I tackle a project, I want fast results. On a trail, I have to remind myself to focus on the journey and not the destination. I’m training myself to slow down and engage all my senses. To take in the panoramicview from a different perspective, to see the new green growth that has resulted from a recent rain, to breathe in the scent of warm pine needles, to hear the rush of a nearby stream.
Take time to look up. When hiking, it’s necessary to concentrate on your feet and the path immediately before you. Rocks, roots, and other snares to trip you up can spring from the ground in the time span of a step. Watching your feet take one step after another can become mind numbing, so don’t forget to look up. Whether you’re hiking to the top of a mountain or exploring the depths of a canyon, craning the neck can provide majestic views and perhaps give that needed jolt of inspiration to keep going.
Looking up can provide inspiration.
Obstacles are no reason to quit.
If you encounter an obstacle, consider the options. A fallen tree, a swollen stream, a critter on the trail—obstacles happen. Go over or around. Clear a new way. Plow through. Turn around. All are options. What is never an option, however, is giving up.
Cairns tell other hikers,
"I was here. You can do it!"
Take encouragement from those who have gone before. Moments of doubt will come. Just when you think you’ve climbed too high, taken a wrong turn, ventured too far, you see a sign that someone has gone before you. You realize that what you’re attempting is not impossible. And you keep going.
Know that the end of the trail is never the end of the trail. Trails seldom just end. They cross, loop, bisect, merge, converge, diverge. When you reach that end-of-the-trail marker, know it’s most often a lie. There are still myriad opportunities open to you. If on the rare occasion it actually is the end of the trail, enjoy the return trip. You’re sure to catch something you missed on the initial one.
            On the trail and in life, I wish you happy hiking!     


  1. I love these hiking tips and I hope it will encourage more people to enjoy the beauty and inspiration of the outdoors!

  2. Thanks, Diana. I hope it does too.

  3. Hmmm, for the first time I think I could really ENJOY a (limited duration!) hike - thanks for the motivation!

    1. Glad I could motivate you, Shel. The great thing about Sedona is that there are many, many easy trails that still offer fantastic views.


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