This should be an easy post to write because I love hiking. But how can I express to you how fulfilling such a simple, easy activity is for me. It’s therapy. The cheapest, easiest therapy available.
I love being alone in the woods.
I love the way it smells. In the winter the woods have a crisp clean smell. You can smell the snow and ice. In the spring you can smell the dirt and leaves before they bloom on the trees. In the summer you can smell the heat in the air. And in the fall you can smell leaves as they begin to die. I love all the smells.
I love the quietness. It is a quiet you can’t get anywhere else but the woods. Some days there is nothing. On a windy day, you can hear it coming through the trees toward you or beside you.
I love that hiking can be as easy or as challenging as I want it to be. I can walk a few miles to a favorite overlook and not break a sweat. Or I can hike 12 miles over drastic elevation changes and end with my legs feeling like jelly. Both equally satisfying depending on my current mood.
I love hiking gear. My boots feel like a part of me. I love putting them on my feet. I love my pack and all the essentials I fill it with. I love hiking snacks…dates and apples and almonds are my favorites!
I love that I can hike alone or with a friend (usually my mom!). We can talk or not talk.
I love the sites. Hiking to an overlook where I can see for miles is so rewarding, but seeing interesting moss and fungus growing on a log is amazing as well. In the winter you can see through the trees and notice the slightest movements. In the spring and summer the green is so brilliant. And the colors of fall are beyond words.
I recently had a particularly difficult evening with my 13-year-old daughter. I needed to clear my head and refocus. Naturally, I needed to hike it out. I felt the stress melting away even as I laced up my boots. A few bottles of water and some snacks. I went to a place I knew well that provided an easy hike with an exceptional view. I was disappointed when I arrived to find another car parked at the trail head. As I set out on the trail, I listened carefully to the woods. It was windy, but that’s the only sound I could hear. The ground was soft and the air was chilly. With every step I felt more relaxed, more “me”. I was happy to arrive at the overlook and find no one was around. I wanted time to think and pray without interruption. I sat on the cold rock for over an hour. I cried. I prayed. I listened. I talked out loud. I ate a snack. I read a few Bible verses on my phone. I took a selfie to send to my husband. I was revived.
Life is so full of noise and distractions and stress. Hiking eliminates all of them. I need to hike. My soul needs to be in the woods. I can talk to God and get a workout at the same time without being distracted by anything or anyone. Nature is the perfect therapy.
This hike was at Linn Run State Park. February 2017. Beam Rock Trail.