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My Love Affair With Hiking

December 23rd, 2013 at 07:01 am

Yes, I really like hiking. Love it, actually. There is no other activity that does so much for me, or gives me as much.

Hiking is great for me physically. Traipsing along trails, up hills and over little creeks is good exercise. Works the muscles and burns the calories. And that's good.

Hiking is great for me spiritually. I'm getting all that exercise while enjoying the wonders of nature. And within just a few minutes of starting a hike, I'm already moving into a mind-clearing, peace-inducing zen-like mental state.

Hiking is great for me mentally. That zen-like state triggers a stream-of-consciousness flow of thoughts that proves super-valuable every time. With new ideas for blog topics. With refinements to my money management or my investing approaches. With possibilities for new places to travel. And out-of-the-blue revelations -- such as my most recent one that uncovered a "hidden desire" for stargazing and astronomy.

(All of which is, by the way, why I always carry on my hikes a pen and index card in my shirt pocket. Getting all that stuff written down keeps it from slipping back down my mental well.)

Hiking is also great for me experientially. Most weeks, I do my hiking along nature trails in county, state and national parks. But once a month I'll travel to a civil war battlefield park to do some heavy-duty historical hiking.

Those hikes are different. Instead of going into a zen-like trance, I go on a mentally focused time travel trip. With a clipboard holding battle maps and a mind holding a recently read detailed account of the engagement, I walk on the very paths along which infantry battle formations advanced. I crouch behind the remains of parapets where the defenders awaited those advancing formations. I stand on the exact high ground from which battle commanders viewed the field and issued their orders. And I imagine being there. What it looked like... sounded like... felt like. And I marvel at the courage and discipline of those soldiers, and at the clearheaded brilliance -- or blind stupidity -- of their leaders.

Yes, hiking. What a great thing to be able to do. And how wonderful to be master of my time so that I can do it whenever good weather beckons and the hiking spirit moves me.

Is there some activity that does that much for you? Want to tell us about it?

4 Responses to “My Love Affair With Hiking”

  1. Jenn Says:

    I can relate (unfortunately to just the love of hiking - not the retirement status)! That's how I plan to spend my retirement too. It's a great way to see new places and stay in shape at the same time.

  2. rob62521 Says:

    Although not as healthy as hiking, cooking is something that relaxes me. DH knows when I've had a stressful day that I will bake muffins or bread that we neither need or probably want. It usually is given to someone, but for a few minutes I have control over something. I can put together flour and baking powder or yeast and other stuff and get a product.

  3. snafu Says:

    I haven't the retirement time options but understand what you're saying. It's a toss up whether the dog or I enjoy our walks most. It's terrific at 1st light to get out and think through problems that defy me. I like to sort out the priorities for the day and mentally run through what needs to be done 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc.

    Dog prefers off leash park but I have to pay attention to his location for clean up; no problem solving. Late night walk has turned into meet and greet for both pup and I

  4. Justin @ Root of Good Says:

    I loooove hiking. It's probably my favorite form of physical activity. I hope I can keep it up into my 60's at least. Lately I've been confined to mostly paved paths since I have a toddler in a stroller. But he's getting his feet underneath him and just managed over 1.5 miles with us (walking to/from the store). Can't wait to take him out and explore the woods and get off the beaten path.

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