Tag Archives: Hiking for emotional well-being

I smiled yesterday

I smiled yesterday. Smiled despite the excessive heat and the gritty dust and sand and the annoying no see ums. I smiled and it felt a little strange, a little different than the furrowed brow and stressed frown that has become part of my office attire. I smiled involuntarily because I went out to meet Nature and I found her. I found the road less traveled. And yet that road-cautioned as unimproved – was actually a well- graded dirt road that led to somewhere; somewhere famous and beautiful. Grosvenor Arch is about 20 miles from Cannonville, Utah in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It is featured on a sticker that I buy and sell hundreds of regularly – one of those stickers for National Parks Passport Books. It is beautiful. Grosvenor Arch is named after Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor – known as the father of photojournalism – the president of National Geographic Society – and a friend of National Parks. Grosvenor Arch is situated fittingly as a neighbor to Kodachrome Basin State Park.

And here’s the thing; Grovesnor Arch is way out there on the dirt road, yet there is a sign. More noticeably, there is a concrete path that leads from the parking area up towards the arch. This path has resting benches along the way. The path is intentionally constructed and maintained to lead visitors to the best possible view of the arch – the photographer’s perspective. The path ends in a pedestrian cul-de-sac that clearly indicates “stand here.” “Take a photo here.” And still Nature beckons me deeper into the juniper forest, the cool cleft of the rock. Beauty restores. Nature refreshes. And Nature makes me smile.

DSCN6155grosvernerarchverticla copy

DSCN6159dirtroadshortcut

 

Getting Back Your Best Game

She was new to this place and it had been a grueling two months. The face in the mirror looked her age – no longer youthful and refreshed. She had slipped into working every day of her life (again) in a mad bid to catch up, to get settled, to get a grip. BTDT in her twenties. Sometimes you have to pull out all the stops for a season – but she knew it was now time to get her game back.

She insisted on a half day off. It was only herself she argued with. She made herself take it. Half day out of seven, but it was a start in the right direction. She took a long hike. She sloshed her feet through the sand and water at the edge of the river and let the rushing water chill the raging worry and the work addiction within her. She sat on a rock in perfect spring sunshine. It turned out to be a comfortable rock – so comfortable she leaned back and closed her eyes and hazarded letting her mind drift like the gently gurgling riffle.

DSCN6005lookingupriver copy

How long had it been since she said that phrase, “These are the best years of my life?” She used to mean it. Now life felt suspiciously like some of the earlier years; grasping, gasping for survival.

She longed to laugh at a well-turned phrase, to feel the wind of adventure in her face, to see and hear new beauty.

“Take a look back,” she said to herself, “What were you doing? When was the last time you felt, really felt you were at the top of your game? The last time you said with sincerity, ‘These are the best years’?”

She remembered those deeply spiritually reviving days of living on the edge of beautiful places, of hiking before the heat of the day, of watching a sunrise, of strolling a beach at sunset. Times of letting nature nourish and nurture.

Those were the times she was dating herself; taking herself to an event or a concert-traveling – finding how to love herself so she might in turn love her neighbor as herself.

Those were the times she was eating with thought and care and great appetite for the healthful.

Those were the times she tucked into bed at a comfortable hour and woke naturally without necessity of an alarm or agenda.

So now, lounging on the rock like a lizard, she pondered, “How did I get to that soul- healthy position in the first place?” Part of it was a product of a resolution to live the next 365 days as though they were all she had. Part of it was allowing herself to be steeped in music and art.

She had a well-balanced brain and at one time had made the decision to live more fully in her right brain – her creative brain – with her organized left brain always guiding her. Now she wondered if it was possible to live in her left brain – forge ahead in organizational success –while letting her right brain guide her.   It was a grand experiment.

She didn’t want to give up the corporate part of life – the paycheck. Some of the best times of life to be had are times when you share with others. Her one big reason for having a job, for making money, was to have something to share.

But now she knew it was time to nourish and nurture that spiritual side again. Not all day. Not in lieu of the practical, but every single day in tandem with the practical.

More nature

More exercise out of doors

More music

More love

Less addiction to work stress and more commitment to working smart

Managing smarter

Embracing the beauty in work

Mini vacations

Why do you work? What do you love? What nurtures and nourishes your soul?

 

 

A hiking mentor

I live here, but I am new.

She is my guest, but she has been here many times before.

I am getting acquainted with all the trails and only take the long ones on weekends – days off from work.

She knows this place like the back of her hand.

I live in housing with four walls and have not yet camped seven miles out under the stars.

She has spent many October birthday weeks 4 X 4 camping at the end of Salt Creek and taking daily forays further into the wilderness.

Salt Creek is closed to wheeled vehicles now, open only to those visitors on foot. But she remembers exploring after hearty dinners around the campfire.

She is older than I – not much-but her memory is sharp. Her memories are good. Very good. This is her favorite place.

Now she is showing me around, introducing me to my own neighborhood. “Right over this hill,” she says, “right around this rock, I found a couple granaries and pictographs I don’t think the rangers know about. Over there, you can see a panel if you have binoculars. The ranger pointed that out, but I have never seen it.”

There are other things she teaches me too, like how to eat well while hiking or camping. What to prepare. Which items to bring. What footwear to choose.

Hiking alone is always inspiring. Wandering is fine. But sooner or later you need a hiking mentor to show you the good stuff.

I doubt I will ever attain her status – the ability to cook chicken cacciatore for eight and then pack it to the hut on Nordic skis.

But I do aspire to her confidence and belief in the abilities of others. Also, her calm patience when backtracking for a lost camera. The camera that carelessly slipped from my pocket and to the ground right after I took the eagle picture. The backtrack that added an extra mile to the ten for which I had steeled myself. The backtrack that we felt acutely in the heat of the day on the last two miles that terminated our trek and restored us to hot running water.

Never-the-less, we venture on another trail today, unflagging. Well-guided. Mentored. Ever learning.

dscn4898rockboosmed

 

Trust at Rattlesnake Arches

The foremost reason I hike is for emotional health.   I love it.  Can’t live without it.  What others find healthful in prayer or meditation, I find in walking out in nature. Clarity, soul–refreshment. The added benefit, of course, is physical health. And way down in tertiary position is the word goal or success.

Nevertheless, I hiked to Rattlesnake Arches last week and thus chalked up another score for the bucket list. It was a goal well-met; a decision well-made. Despite the urging of some friends not to go alone and others not to take my Subaru, I set my face toward the arches and I went.

DSCN7678jeeproadThere are two ways to get to the arches.  From the North; a seven-mile hike in and through Rattlesnake Canyon with a seven-mile return.  From the South; a seven-mile dirt road, connecting to 1.5 miles of jeep road and then two miles on foot. I chose the dirt road thinking at any time to pull over and hoof it the rest of the way.  It was my lucky day.  The dirt road was freshly graded.  The Red Pearl made it the full seven miles – at 10 miles per hour.  Trucking on down the Jeep road in my bald tennies; I came upon this wondrous sign:

DSCN7680signatrattlesnake

Solitude.  Oh how I love that word.  On my way in, I met a lone cyclist, on the road out only one vehicle. I was alone, in utter solitude for a seven-mile radius.  There are times I need the counsel and restoration of friends and times I need to be alone, self-paced, quiet, in self-examination.

DSCN7704distantriver

Cresting the hill, canyons and valleys of the Colorado River stretch out before me, on into ruby colored sandstone and to Utah. The world is so vast. I am so very small. Instantly I trust.

The fear which chronically dogs me, is utterly gone.  I rest. Finally in the arms of Nature. There is nothing I can do.  Nothing for me to fix, manipulate or take responsibility for.  It is beyond me.  And yet, all will be most well. It is in the hands of the supernatural. 

DSCN7697firstarch

 

 

DSCN7711redrockandcanyonframedbyarch

 

DSCN7720archframescanyon

 

DSCN7730rockwallofarches