Have you ever hiked? Put on a backpack, doused yourself with bug spray, and ventured out into the wilderness?
And by wilderness, I’m not talking uncharted territory here – just nature and a fairly-well-marked trail. Just you and nature; no companion but yourself. If you see another person on the trail you are, however, reassured that you’re not the last person on the planet.
That kind of hike?
I started hiking this spring. I have no idea why, I just got it into my head that I’d go to the county park and hike. There was still snow covering tree roots and at times the trail was difficult to see. And I was wearing sneakers, not boots. But I hiked about two miles that day. And fell in love.
Since then, I am now properly outfitted with waterproof hiking shoes, wool socks to keep my feet dry, a day pack that holds my DSLR, a bottle of water, and lunch.
I have hiked nearly 30 miles so far in the forests and gorges of Central New York and being alone on the trails and in nature has given me time to think about my life and some wisdom I’ve gained along the way.
So, through the lens of a new hiker, here are the things I’ve been reminded of; formerly unspoken lessons that I’ve learned to put into words. Take what you need, leave the rest for later (like for when you go hiking)…
Hiking = Life
- Have a plan; learn what your options are and choose one that just feels right.
- Have a compass (moral or magnetic; either is good to have) or a really good map.
- Always wear proper shoes.
- It’s okay to wander for a bit, but don’t get lost for too long.
- Be prepared; pack your bag with what you’ll need for your journey.
- The small challenges along the way simply prepare you for the bigger ones ahead (there will be bigger ones).
- Look up from the trail once in a while to see the big picture.
- A few steps farther or in a different direction will offer a completely new perspective or view of the world.
- If you lose the trail and stray, you can always turn around (or keep going in that direction if it feels right – check your compass).
- Think critically about your next step.
- At some point, you may find that it’s not be in your best interest to go back the way you came – continue on.
- If you stumble, you probably weren’t paying attention to what’s in front of you.
- You will stumble again, it’s inevitable.
- Just when you think you’ve reached the top, there’s another hill.
- And, similarly: when there’s an up, there will be a down (or visa-versa).
- In the grand and cosmic scheme of things, you’re not that big of a deal – don’t take yourself too seriously.
- You’ve got this – persevere and be successful at whatever you set your mind and heart on.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What have you learned from hiking? Do you have a passion or a hobby that has taught you about life? Please share in the comments.
If you’d like to view some of my photos from a recent hike, you can visit this Flickr album.