Walking the blues away, part 3.
I am enjoying the walks more and more as the weather heats up, and the opportunity to walk in less urban places grows. For Easter we visited our kids in Tennessee, and walked in the mountains. It was wonderful to step on springy soil instead of asphalt. A few weeks later my parents and I walked along the beach, watching the waves and dolphins, and counting the rotations of the lighthouse. Both times the feeling of the heat and sun on my skin, as well as the exercise lifted my spirits. Walking is truly a tool in the battle against the blues, not the only one, and perhaps not the best one for every person, but the perfect one for me.
Sometimes, I don’t even have to be the person walking to receive the benefits. I am reading the book “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, a true account of one woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
Many of these hikers begin their trip woefully underprepared. They think they know what to expect, but the reality of a through hike is usually different. Most novices on the trail stuff too many items into their backpacks, and struggle with the extra heavy weight. The hike is harder than ever expected and yet rewards the hiker with unexpected beauty. Sometimes many things go wrong all at once, leaving the hiker to wonder if she can continue even one day more. Blisters on the feet, sores on the body where the overly heavy backpack rubs the skin raw, running out of water, running into wildlife, all sorts of challenges present themselves. At each problem, the hiker has a choice in how to react. He can be overwhelmed, can panic or become angry, or the hiker can rise to the challenge and plow through.
Of course this makes wonderful metaphors for every day life. While reading “Wild” I found myself making comparisons between the writers hapless adventures and my recent left turns in life. When she lost her only boots in the middle of a section of trail, she had no choice but to be resourceful, find a way to protect her feet, and move on. She had over 100 miles to go before she could get off the trail and replace those boots, and all she had were a pair of cheap broken sandals. I can’t even imagine how it felt to see her boot fly off over the side of a mountain. I felt vulnerable and unprotected for her. There are times in life when I think I just can’t go on. There is nothing I can do. Perhaps, like Cheryl, I will have to pull out the duct tape and just press on.
Keep moving, never give up, and enjoy the journey. Sometimes though, the journey isn’t pleasant, and we have to keep an eye on the goal, the reason and why. One thing I have learned from all these many hiking books is that it isn’t always the seasoned hiker or nature lover that finishes. It is the person that has set their mind to the task, has the desire to persevere and is willing to keep moving forward despite the obstacles.
The Pacific Crest Trail runs from the border with Mexico to our border with Canada, covering 2,650 miles. This long distance trail covers all types of terrain, from deserts and the Sierra Nevada Mountains to quiet woods. Hikers walk across California, Oregon and Washington. Right now a couple of soldiers are hiking the trail as a way of transitioning from war to civilian life. Groups of hikers are on the PCT, and other hikers are on the Appalachian Trail. This is true hiking therapy.
I can’t wait for the day I can hike along parts of this trail, but until then, I can enjoy books, blogs and reports of other hikers.
For more information on the Pacific Crest Trail click on the link below. Happy Hiking!