Monday, June 13, 2011

Hiking with company

It all started just over six weeks ago during my workout on the gym treadmill.  After almost twenty mind-numbing minutes, I am completely bored out of my mind.  Well, umm, let's be honest, after barely five minutes on the treadmill, I start thinking about all of the other things I'd rather be doing.  I mean, how uninspiring is it walking on a machine, staring at myself in the mirror, and craning my head upwards to read the subtitles on Live! With Regis and Kelly with all the other ladies similarly annoyed with themselves for neglecting to visit the gym in like, forever?
Suddenly it occurs to me - what the f*%$#! am I doing?  Why am I inside torturing myself on this horribly boring treadmill when I could be outside in the wonderful spring air doing the same thing but in nature and for much most likely longer than twenty minutes?!

A few days later, after kind of a rough emotional weekend, I drop the kids at school and set out by myself on one of my favorite local hiking spots.  Instead of listening to the boom-chaca-boom of the gym's overhead music, I'm listening to nature.  It's positively cathartic.  Relaxing.  Calming.  Head clearing.  Energizing.  Sweaty.  Beautiful.  Therapeutic.  Fun.  Inspiring.
I make a vow to myself to hike this hike at least once a week until the kids are out of school at the end of June.  Why not continue the hikes with the kids?  Ya, I do that with them, too, but it's just not the same.  When they hike, it's a totally different agenda - play, doddle, get dirty, explore, be loud, and so on.  The only sweating involved is from me worrying that they are going to fall off a cliff or get bit by a rattlesnake. 

Javier the friendly & philosophical lizard
The next week on my hike I feel a bit like Snow White.  There are critters everywhere I turn.  There are all kinds of birds chirping, tree squirrels, ground squirrels, frogs croaking, happy dogs, bunnies, a rare baby bunny(!!!!), and tons of different scampering lizards.  I question my sanity a bit after I engage in a rather philosophical conversation with Javier, the friendly lizard I spot along the trail.  I think maybe next week I should invite some friends to come along with me for some human company.

But, I don't quite bring myself to do it quite yet.  With all of the wildlife, nature, Javier, and occasional fellow hiker, not once do I feel alone or lonely.   

When I mention my solo hikes to well-meaning friends, they caution "be careful!".  I will admit, the thought of danger does occur to me (bad people lurking in the brush, mountain lions, dogs not on a leash), but I feel pretty confident holding onto my I'm-a-bad ass-don't-even-think-about-messing-with-me stick that I carry every time (and stash behind the same rock near the entrance).  Maybe that's just part of the attraction - exercise, nature, and a little bit of a thrill?

Last week, I finally feel like I'm ready to invite some friends to join me.  It seems like perfect timing because a bunch of us moms from school are all doing this sort of healthy/lose weight/exercise/take better care of ourselves support group thing to keep us all motivated right before swimsuit season.  So, I put it out there to the group that they are welcome to hike with me.  I tell myself that I am still going hiking no matter what, even if no one else goes.

Well, wouldn't you know it, seven ladies show up that day!  Oh, and two dogs!  And, it is nice.  Really nice.  The time seems to fly as we talk talk talk up, down, and all around the trail.  Like me, they appreciate the abundant wildflowers, gorgeous weather, sometimes challenging climbs, and the company.  I did a good thing.
Do I like hiking with the ladies better or do I prefer the going solo with only the company of nature?  Well, I'm not sure...tough call.  It's just a different experience.  I do know that either way, it absolutely feels great and I will cherish my last two Wednesday hikes until school gets out for summer.  After that, I will switch to hiking-with-the-kids mode until the fall.  No biggie.

Instead of pining for my solo or ladies hiking days, I will try to focus only on the good stuff, because after all, I can have a blast hiking with my kids.  With my family in tow (and maybe some occasional invited friends), we tend to be more adventurous with our hiking spots (like trying places that other people suggest or that take more than ten minutes to get to), make a whole fun day of it, find new discoveries together, bond as a family (or with our friends), and have lots of opportunities for learning.

I won't kid myself, though - my solo hikes do something for my soul like nothing else does.  But, at least I know that.  It's like a big gift in my little sanity pocket that's all mine.  Mine!  So, with that in mind, I look forward to what adventures await us this summer and I can't wait to share.

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