A walk in the park invigorates, takes one outside a gym for exercise, allows for relaxation. But a hike takes the great outdoors to a whole different level. A hike is an adventure of discovery. What’s up the next ridge or around the curve? Which of these bark-lined paths is the real trail? What historical artifacts will we find?
Last weekend, Judy and I joined Oregon’s South Coast Striders for their bi-monthly hike. Eager to investigate nearby trails that we’d never hiked, we gathered our day pack, water, snacks, walking sticks, and knee braces. The day, sunny with moderate temperatures in town, turned cold and windy as we rendezvoused at the Point Arago starting place. We layered up with jackets and vests, happily finding gloves in our pockets.
Soon, we were off with a group of 25 or 30 others over a new section that had been recently added, reconfiguring the trail into a loop. Our leader took us off the main path at one point to show us a World War II bunker that stood abandoned and roofless under huge trees in what had been goat fields seventy years ago. He told us an account of the bunker’s purpose and layout from a local man who’d been an Army corporal back then. Turns out, he was someone we knew.
One of the things I enjoy about hiking is going out to new territory, meeting the challenges each place presents, and testing myself. Can I find my way? Do I have the stamina for this hike?
Hiking is one way to get up close and personal with nature. You’re immersed, touching, seeing, smelling, listening, even tasting. All senses are heightened, standing alert, doing exactly the jobs for which our long-ago ancestors used them.
Most planned hikes are rated: easy, moderate, or difficult. At national and state parks, there are often maps that show the trails and the topography. Thus, hikers can choose the perfect jaunt for their ability and endurance.
Four years ago, Judy and I made a tour of the National Parks and Monuments of Utah. We began with Zion then moved on to Bryce Canyon. Before the week was finished, we’d hiked Canyonlands, Arches, and Capitol Reef. The varied terrain and landscapes within a relatively small area fascinated us. At one park, I experienced my first time climbing over rocks, having to note the stone cairns that marked the trail since there was no bark path to follow. The vistas provided us a view of our great land and showed us some of what the early settlers and pioneers traversed.
|Canyonlands National Park|
Hiking gives me a feeling of freedom and the wonder of nature. It shows me that I can manage in a natural setting and feeds my need to discover and learn new things. So many trails; so little time.
Do you enjoy hiking? What’s your favorite hike or trail? Have you read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods or Cheryl Strayed's Wild?
~ xoA ~