Tag Archives: Hiking for Life

Two headlamps is always a good idea

4:48 pm

Without slacking my pace I turned and headed back up the wash the way I had come. I was at least an hour out from the car and the sun would set before six. Twenty-five minutes later I arrived at the spot where I first said, “Just one more bend, I’ll just go around one more bend and see what’s up ahead. We wouldn’t want to turn back now, Self, when there might be a lake inlet just around the bend.”

It was Super Hike Sunday and I started my hike late, very late, after lunching with friends. Once I circumvented the white pothole pour-off via the mini-talus slopes, I set off at a good clip down the level wash that is Wire Grass Trail. I wanted to hike until I saw something beautiful, until I felt good, until I was winded, until I no longer felt fat from lunch and the many desserts I have comforted myself with this week.

I did see something beautiful. An arch. I interrupted my momentum only long enough to take a picture. More beauty. I wanted more. I began to feel good again. I never did get winded so I kept on, chasing the sunlight and then chasing the shadow, always, always aware of where the sun was on the horizon.

At 5:58 pm  on my return trip I reached the slope where I first clocked the sun at 3:45 pm to gauge if I really had time to do the hike. That was the moment I realized I needed two headlamps. I know, I know, one should be enough, but I have been using my headlamp for early morning walks and I left it setting on the table when I shouldered my daypack; that daypack where the headlamp should -and usually does-reside. Knowing that it is still too early in the year to get much daylight after 4:00 pm, I thought to turn back near the beginning of the trailhead when I first realized my headlamp was home in the kitchen. But I also knew I carried a small flashlight tucked into the first aid kit.

6:03 pm said my cell phone when I arrived at the car. The sun was down, yet still remained the daylight. Whew! It’s not that I am afraid of the dark, I’m just afraid of feeling helpless, afraid of causing someone the bother of coming to find me. I am feeling fine. My toes are sore. My biceps ache from swinging my hiking poles, but I am not winded. It’s going to be a great spring for hiking! For putting one foot in front of the other; for not slackening my pace. How about you?

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I have some explaining to do…

I walked over to the liquor store today to post some letters and when I came out the door and headed toward home, the lake water was so blue it called to me. So I took a big sip from my bottle, and seeing there were no cows on the other side today; crawled through the fence onto National Park System property. Actually, I am not quite sure if I was hiking on NPS managed land or ranchland as I made my way toward the lake, but I have a park pass so I figure I am legal.  I am only about a mile from Lake Powell as the crow flies. As often happens in Page, the lines are a little blurred.

Only one paragraph in and if you know me at all, I bet I have some explaining to do.

Page Arizona has no residential door-to-door mail delivery, nor rural routes. Everyone has a PO box. I live in an upscale community about 9 miles north of Page. The two communities share the same zip code. We are each assigned a post office box. The Greenehaven boxes are housed in the last convenience store before the highway enters Utah. And it so happens; being this convenience store is in close proximity to Lake Powell and Lone Rock, and Lone Rock is a location famous for spring breaks and arrests; the most convenient item the store-turned-post office panders is liquor.

I had planned to return straight home and write but the weather was delightful. A light spring breeze was blowing. Birds were chirping. I was prepared with my water bottle and cell-phone because I had walked to the mart. The lake was beckoning me. The water was blue, Air Force blue. And so I crawled through the fence.

Crawled through the fence? Yes. Without ripping my shirt or my pants on the barbed wire. When I first got to Page I was afraid to do this so I spent my time hiking on roads; paved, gravel, dirt; seeing nothing but dust and hearing nothing but off-road vehicles. Over the months I found that National Recreation Areas are managed differently than National Parks. Cattle still graze here. I have met the grazing ranger for the Park Service. Plus, BLM rangers basically say, “This land is your land. Go make your own trail. Be sure and take a map.”

Today, I hiked about a mile cross-desert toward the lake. I meandered along the rim of an arroyo turned slot canyon. I saw no cattle, but bovine hoof-prints were fresh – as were coyote, rabbit, and assorted rodent prints. I saw two tiny lizards scurrying to re-provision on the opportune sunny day.

On the way back, it was warm and I rolled up my pant legs, wishing I had worn zip-offs and sandals rather than skinny leg levis and smart wool socks. Then it was hot and I removed my shirt, tied it around my waist and hiked on in my short-sleeve T-shirt. Imagine that, so warm on February 3 that I am sweaty and will need another shower when I get home.

Arriving at the fence once again, I turned around and looked at the lake. The water now appeared shimmering pearl gray. You can almost tell what time of day it is – or what season – by the shade of blue reflected in the water.

It took less than two hours, and I have benefitted greatly by crawling through a fence and putting one foot in front of the other. Did you remember to get outside today?

The Lone Rock / Wahweep area of Lake Powell looking up lake and toward Navajo Mountain in the distance
The Lone Rock / Wahweap area of Lake Powell looking uplake and toward Navajo Mountain in the distance

Taking a meander through life

How often had she said it? “I don’t like to walk for transportation. 15822841_10154008704191891_2897296190757686136_nWhen you walk to get there, you have a set goal, a deadline. There is no pondering, no exploring. You have to walk fast, be punctual.”

Granted, she usually had some direction in mind when she hiked. She was seldom without preparation and a good plan. It’s just that she reserved the right to alter her course, take a different side path, experience something new. She hiked to see new things. To think. To ponder. To assimilate new insights. To make connections between the physical world and the spiritual; the mental world and the earthy. In short, she hiked for recreation. And, in putting one foot in front of the other, she reaped all kinds of health: Physical health. Mental health. Spiritual health. Emotional health.

How like a river is the journey of life, she thought. A river meanders. Often, instead of taking the straightaway through a meadow or valley, the river pushes its boundaries ever outward toward the side, taking a longer route and then making a leisurely switchback. But, when a river gets between a rock and a hard place, where geologically the sides are slumping and closing in, it crashes forward in a cataract. Sometimes a flash flood stirs up the calm meander of the river and it pelts rocks and twigs and throws debris against rock walls. Eventually, the river punches a new hole, a shortcut through the rock wall making a natural bridge. Water flows swiftly under. Or maybe the river, growing impatient, just floods over the neck of the earth peninsula outcropping between two switchbacks and cuts a new course, a shorter route to the goal.

A good meditative meander may result in some active chipping away, some erosion, a new shortcut, maybe a dramatic change of course, less often a roller coaster ride down a cataract. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Explore all options in your journey. Be strong like the water, and do a good deal of thoughtful meandering.

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