I am an "unlikely hiker". You could even say that I am an "outsider to outsiders". I would gather that I am more like the average person reading this blog than the extreme hiker, planning their next pilgrimage to Mount Kailash in Tibet. I would not categorize myself as an outdoor adventurist and you would very rarely find me in a tent, unless my millennial child spiritually mind gamed me into "being one" with nature. I am not in the "typical" age range. I am a woman, and I even fall outside the racial category for hiking. But here I am, working on hiking challenges and diving into creating a business around hiking to hopefully help myself and other "unlikely hikers" find a path to reconnect to the nature in our souls.
I have been consistently hiking for a little over a year. I have progressed in my learning and understandings of the importance of bug spray, a good hat, and a hiking pack to hold a bright flashlight, because I have not quite gotten over the fear of the dark. Even though there has been great growth, I have much to learn. As I continue through this new journey, I keep my first few hikes in mind to always remind me of how I felt after them.
How did I feel? I felt tired, a good tired, and something else...something that I had not felt in a long time - I felt content. The feeling did not last after that first hike and the grind of life soon sucked me back into my “normal". But then I went on my second hike, visiting two more Minnesota State Parks, Charles Lindberg and Crow Wing. In a light misty rain, I filled my lungs with fresh air and I challenged my legs and my body to move. Along the way, I learned a little about the great state of Minnesota, cherished time with my son, and enjoyed the beauty of the outdoors. As we drove home, I felt it again, tired, and content. I started to think, "What is this? What happens to me as I am hiking? It seems to be less work than running, easier than working out at a gym, and time seems to pass slower as I enjoy my surroundings, yet I am amazed at how time flies by as I mark another 3-6 miles in my log book at the end of a hike." I was hooked and I wanted a new "normal" for my life. I think I am not alone, and I believe there are others out there that would like to change their "normal" as well.
During my year of hiking I have logged well over 200 miles, visited and hiked in 5 different states, and enjoyed multiple opportunities to connect with family, friends, and a handful of strangers. Each hike was filled with new experiences, new discoveries and learning opportunities.
I am thankful to EVERYONE I have had the opportunity to hike with. You know who you are! YOU are AMAZING! Thank you for teaching me about loving deep, forgiving often, letting go, living in the "now" and focusing on what really matters. Thank you for helping me begin to change my "normal".
We are multi-dimensional, complex individuals, but we all have a basic commonality tethering us together. We are all children of the Earth. Chubby, skinny, tall, short, Black, Asian, White, rich, poor, happy, depressed, the list goes on and on as we pass our time together on this planet. Our connection to the earth is a blessing, a gift that we often forget to unwrap. Thankfully, it waits for all of us to rediscover and come home to.
As you head into Thanksgiving and Christmas, slow down. Take time for YOU. Maybe sneak in a nature walk close by at a local park, nothing over-planned or fancy, just you reconnecting with the earth. Spend some time thinking about all of the love that is in your life that goes unnoticed and let go of your burdens for a few minutes. Breathe deeply and intentionally the air that sustains us all and find thankfulness during Thanksgiving! My wish for you during this holiday season is to feel a "good" tired and contentment. We can all benefit from strengthening our bodies, calming our minds and feeding our souls.
As I head into my second year of hiking, I am challenging myself to put some of the things I have learned this year into practice. I am also looking for new people to hike with! So...come on "unlikely hikers"! Come out and HIKE; change your "normal".
Where do you like to hike? Who do you like to hike with? You don't hike? Well...neither did I. Let's meet up and give it a try together.
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