Why I Hike
Having dabbled around in front of the computer accomplishing nothing for the better part of the morning, I noticed myself getting frustrated. Before I had time to channel my fury out on an unsuspecting family member or friend I quickly threw on my gray and blue winter jacket and headed for the Oredson-Todd Woods. I knew from prior experience that if my body released some endorphins and inhaled some cold frosty air my mood was sure to improve. On this day, my choice in destination was very precise as the woods are located close to my house and provide a swift escape from the civilized world.
I pulled up to the trailhead at five miles faster than I should have, got out of my car and slammed the door. Almost instantly after exiting my vehicle I felt my ridged body start to relax. Except for the occasional bird chirp and my feet crunching on snow, my surroundings were silent. As I began to take long, rapid strides toward the snow-covered hills, my thoughts drifted from one to the other until they stopped and began to spiral on the idea of being grateful.
Earlier that morning I had been listening to the radio and heard about a little girl in Philadelphia who had been shot and paralyzed for life. Despite this grave misfortune, this child did not pity herself nor did she complain about being handicap. Furthermore, she publicly forgave her shooter and then added that even in times of despair there are always things to be grateful for. Surely, paralysis is a better cause for self-pity than lack of accomplishment. A feeling of guilt loomed over me. I continued walking quietly along the path.
With each footstep I took I made a loud CRUNCH as I compacted hard, three-day-old snow. Occasionally, my feet walked over ice and the KRUUUUM KRUUUUM KRUUUUM sound of the snow was replaced by a sharper KRAAAAM. As these sounds became my mantra, I pictured a goofy looking dragon munchin’ on a celery stick. Each time he bit the celery it made a KRAAAAM sound as that was the initial bit, which he committed it with an open mouth. The KRUUUUUM KRUUUUM KRUUUUUM was the sound of chewing and therefore was quieter because dragons chew with their lips closed.
I smiled and began to chuckle at each subsequent crunch. I was no longer interested in being annoyed or feeling guilty. Those two states of consciousness were old news and I needed something fresh! I felt inspired to notice and list as many things I was grateful for as possible. Here are just a few from my list…
I am thankful for:
· The snow that fell and renewed a trail that I had walked many times before
· The winter air that enters my lungs and sharply reminds me that I am still alive
· Ashland, and the incredible ease with which one can enjoy nature here
Before the completion on my hike I thought of a question I have been asked many times. “Why do you like to hike?” I had answered this question many different ways in the past. However, it was not until this hike that I realized the right answer- “I like to hike because nature shifts my state of being making it easy to be happy!”