Why I Hike

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As you can see, it was another misty morning – but beautiful.

But let’s get right to it: why I hike.

I have been pondering this since Saturday, when I found myself hurrying. I don’t want to hurry when I hike. About 15 years or so ago, it used to take me 6.5 – 7 hours to hike the CPR loop, without adding the lookout. Generally, I was hiking on my own, getting into the wonderful Zen-like state and loving being outdoors.

Now – I am older – stronger, surprisingly enough, and I did it in 6 hours including the lookout. And I’m not happy about it. I know a lot of people would be madly proud to have shaved an hour off their time. Not me.

I know that we all hike for different reasons: mine are simple – I want to be out in the beauty of nature. I especially want to be in the mountains and I want to hike up a mountain and get to the top. Then absorb all the beauty and wonder around me – then come back down. And I like coming down at a fairly leisurely pace because at that point in the hike, I am zoned into a place of peace that almost demands I slow down to relish it.

Along the way, both up and down, I like to take photos. When something beautiful catches my eye, I want to capture it.

When I hike with this group, I find too often that I am not getting the photos I want because people are dashing off at such a clip. In other words, I find myself hurrying. And why? So that I can get this hike over with and get back home and get back indoors?

That makes no sense to me. I want to prolong the experience.

Now, that doesn’t mean I want to be part of a “slow and steady” group. And it also doesn’t mean that the people who are faster are doing anything wrong. First, some people have a naturally faster pace. I know that when I walk with Julie on flat ground in the park, I literally have to jog to keep up with her. Man – she’s a powerhouse walker! And that’s great!

Some people really do want to time themselves and get up to the top fast. People do that on the Grouse Grind and on Mount Benson all the time. They get their needs met by testing themselves. More power to them.

My dilemma is that I love hiking alone and I love hiking with the group. I don’t want to give up hiking with the group but I also don’t want to rush. And I want to do challenging hikes. I need to find a way to make all of that work.

I don’t ever want to give up the main point of my hiking: to be outside; to be in awe of nature and all her beauty – to be suspended in a place of wonderment.

And so it’s up to me to create those conditions.

Let’s see how I do. Certainly, getting clear on this is the first step.

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