Just about an hour a day on a trail, any trail, and I’m having a good day. Add a yoga class to that … I’m heading towards nirvana.
I have always loved the mountains. After spending my first summer at the age of nine in the Green Mountains of Vermont, I was hooked. The trail has continually brought pleasure into my life throughout the years … everything from pure fun, magnificent beauty, and physical strength to inner strength, balance and sometimes just a place to simply slowing down.
Here is an article written by Pamela a few years back that has always been one of my favorites, hope you enjoy … and have a good weekend.
Take a hike: Words of wisdom from the trail
By Pamela Periconi
The truth of the matter? Despite the unfailing beauty, the nonexistent crime, and virtually cloudless summers, life at the foot of the mountains does have its low points.
Stress, deadlines, unrequited love, under-pay, under-appreciation, familial gripes, overall malaise.
Even us rustic folk are prone to bouts of angst. But, thankfully, relief (free of charge and not yet available in pill form) is close at hand.
You see, mountain town residents have the luck of geography: We have people-free places and wide open spaces to turn to when troubles mount. In nearby paths, we can seek refuge from life’s trials and tribulations – rain or shine, 24 hours a day.
When life gets us down we literally take a hike … or a walk… or a bike ride … something … anything … that transports us – body and mind – into the woods and far from our cares.
Are we running away from our problems? Maybe so.
But I prefer to think of it as a form of therapy – the kind only nature can provide.
Who needs Prozac when you wake up to the Tetons every morning? Who has time for excessive self-pity when you spot a bald eagle or some other symbol of all that is right with the world?
Mountain town residents choose not to sit and stew in our woes. Instead, we take them outside with the hope that by the end of our adventure, we are transformed. (Or at least a little less depressed.)
Most of the time, we get what we came for.
Comfort is found in the hush of the trees, the soothing smell of pine, the way the wind blows the shirt against our backs. The sun warms our skin. Large-sized rocks lining the river’s edge are like a therapist’s couch, beckoning us to have a seat. Relax. Take a deep breath. Sort through our discontent.
Strength (physical and emotional) comes when we put one foot in front of the other, determined to get to the very top of the peak we’ve set our sights on. We focus on our legs, knowing that only by climbing higher and higher through the Aspen trees can we gain a greater perspective on life’s struggles. We listen to the quickness of our breath, hoping to exhale all that is weighing us down.
Clarity is reached when, as the lone traveler on the trail, open stretches of green and trees and buttes lie before us. Alone, we can remove our sunglasses and, if need be, allow our tears to surface. Uncluttered spaces often lead to uncluttered thinking.
Freedom comes when we can forget about our adult problems. In the forest, we are able to let our imaginations run wild: Is that a tree stump or the backside of a grizzly bear? By “oohing” and “aahing” at the wildflowers in full bloom or by holding our arms out beside us when we come barreling down the hills, the long-lost child within us is able to come out and play. Flying. Flying. Flying.
We learn not to take ourselves too seriously.
Pride comes when we make it further or faster than we had hoped. It surfaces when we see something as vain as the muscles in our legs becoming more defined. Or appears when we make it across the narrow, rotting logs suspended above a fast-moving, rocky stream – an accomplishment made possible by our wits and sense of balance.
Joy appears when we return to our starting point – sweaty and cleansed – and realize our outlook has been altered. We look down at our muddied shins and sneakers and smile. Our self-esteem is often back to where it should be. (And yes, our dogs are finally pooped.)
For peace of mind or just plain peace, a little hiking goes a long, long way.
As hokey as it may sound, the mountains are our mentors. They guide us, give us a goal to work towards, and, through their grand presence, are capable of showing us the bigger picture.
During our outdoor soul-searching, we keep our heads held high, chin up, eyes on the prized place we’ve designated as the stopping point. Forward-looking means forward-thinking.
And when the day or hour or weekend is done, we know how far we’ve come and carry that mindset with us once we’ve left the trail. Regardless of what is troubling us, it is reassuring to know that we still have our solo time. Our woods. Our paths to happiness. Our way out.