Words always seem to fall short when I attempt to articulate what hiking means to me. Of all leisurely pursuits, hiking has always been my activity of choice. In lone pursuit at a very young age, I continually wandered beyond the boundaries of our farm in pursuit of trees and creeks. This was no small task as I was surrounded by crops and my legs were much shorter then! I finally discovered a pristine creek in the woods where I spent hours enthralled with minnow filled pools along with the sounds and sights of water trickling over and through the rocks. My parents and family weren’t into camping or hiking. Someway I pursued those adventures anyway – perhaps nature chose me.
In my early twenties I had the opportunity to hike out west with friends for an entire summer. While I initially had my doubts, and even cried when faced with relentless switchbacks trekking out of the Grand Canyon, I soon embraced the challenge. Our most exciting hike was exploring four weeks along the Pacific Crest Trail diagonally across Yosemite National Park. We resupplied ourselves at the half-way point, Tuolumne Meadows, with a care-package sent to ourselves general delivery. The magnificent trees, clear mountain streams and lakes, flower filled meadows, and mountain pass views were awe-inspiring! While we struggled at times – times when mosquitoes were so thick we ate them along with our food each time we opened our mouths; when a bear climbed up the tree and ravaged my back-pack; and when we experienced spurts of heavy snowfall as we watched a snow cloud make three attempts before finally flowing over the mountain range, it was all fascinating. Yeah, nature is filled with stories! After a summer of conditioning, we easily summited Mt. Whitney (14,505 elevation), the highest peak in the lower forty-eight states.
For a period of time, hiking took a back seat to family life but soon the girls too were drawn to nature and loved being outdoors playing in creeks, camping, and wandering in the woods. Our oldest daughter continues to share our love of hiking. While basking in the glow of hiking, I am excited when I see her serene expression as she too treks along and takes it all in. During our continued travels, our feet constantly hit the trail, more intimately experiencing our world. As a side benefit, we stay healthy and fit. We feel alive as we flex a wide range of muscles, lungs expanding as we amber along the trails, some more challenging than others. The randomness of the wonders happening all around us keep us hiking and enthralled – wandering down the path taking in all nature has to give.