Tag Archives: Hiking

The end of an era.

I have had little trouble honoring my goal of getting outside this month.  The weather is (mostly) cooperating and I live in a beautiful place with woods and a river nearby.  It is an amazing feeling to reconnect with nature as more than an occasional escape.  In my past I have often been a person who walked in the woods every day and routinely did 6-12 mile hikes almost every weekend.

I am happy to report that despite my additional years and what I am fondly calling my extra ‘thesis weight,’ I can still manage the walking and the hills quite nicely, thank you very much.  I am even happier to report that my recent discovery of kayaking on the Susquehanna will give me some wonderful variety in the way I experience my beautiful surroundings.

This is a sad re-birth, however.  My Hannah, while still alive and well, can no longer tolerate long wanders in the woods.  She has a hard time with short walks too, in fact, and so we have mostly been sticking to the neighborhood and the local dog park and limiting our outings to 45 minutes or less.

It is hard to remember hiking without Hannah, my outdoor companion.  With the exception of the few hikes I have taken abroad or across the country, Hannah has walked every single walk with me for thirteen years.  In fact, she’s probably hiked twice what I have.  Her border collie instincts kick in when we are outdoors, and she always checks on the herd – running from the front to the back of any group – and then to the front again.

Want to go on a walk Shelby? Let's go on a walk!

A great trail dog, Hannah helps me to stop and relax and enjoy the view.  She stays close by even while she is exploring – always returning to me every few minutes to check-in.  She motivates me to get outside when I don’t feel like moving, and then I am so grateful for the fresh air in my lungs.  Her sheer love of the walk and the outdoors (tail wagging all the while) puts me in a great mood and encourages me to focus on here – now – not on anything else.  When I take her off-leash she is overjoyed.  She sits obediently while I remove her collar and stays until I give her the command to run free, when she bounds off, elated.  I am elated to be off-leash too.

A few years ago a friend, who knows I am clutzy and prone to walking into file cabinets and tripping on my own feet, noticed something while we were hiking together.  He said “for someone who gets new bruises every day, you sure can walk on the rocky trails of PA without any trouble at all. What’s that about?”

I pondered his observation – something I’d never noticed but that is certainly true.  I think the answer is that when I’m in the woods, I am just in the woods.  I am walking and relaxing and focused on that one activity.  For a person prone to multi-tasking (and have I mentioned making things far more complicated than they need to be), this singular focus is an important way I recharge and care for myself.  And it is something I have most certainly learned from my dog.

In spite of her grey hairs and her aching joints, Hannah is still a happy, healthy dog.  I am hopeful that I have at least a few more good years with her.
I know that her company is a gift, whether we get into the woods or not.  But I am missing her there, and I am grieving.

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Filed under Hiking, Life

I can make anything complicated.

I’m happy to report moderate to great success on both of my June resolutions.

First, the nightly touches.  I thought it would be a good idea to spend 15 minutes every night picking up the house and getting ready for a clean start (literally and figuratively) in the morning.  I was right.  The morning AFTER evenings I have done this are much more smooth and enjoyable.  In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests that those entire days are more productive and happier as well.  I’m not sure I’ll ever reach 100% on this resolution – nor am I certain I want to.  Sometimes being open to spontaneity means that I will be busy until 11:00 PM and then want, immediately, to go to bed.  My life is not so complicated (no partner, no children, no commute) that I can’t manage when my house is a bit untidy or I haven’t planned my lunch for the next day. Overall, though, I like the idea and will try to remember how much mental energy is saved the next day by 15 minutes the night before.

So, lets move on from this boring resolution and get to what’s really interesting:
my ability to make an information management project out of ANYTHING.

Yes, it’s true.  I can take a resolution about getting outside into the woods and communing with nature into a database opportunity.

You heard me.

Here’s how it happened.

I went on a hike at Bald Eagle State Park.  Yay!

It was a great hike, but it was shorter than I had hoped for two reasons.  One, there was a bald eagle nest somewhere on the trail so the park had closed it to hikers.  Nothing I could do about that.  But two, I left for this hike later than expected because it took me an hour to read about hikes in the area and pick one.  Had more time been available to me, I would have found another trail to supplement my initial hike with.  Instead, I felt pressed for time and added only a short (but lovely, I admit) walk on a butterfly trail in the main area of the park.

This isn’t all that uncommon.  I set aside a day for hiking but I forget that it takes me a while to determine where to go.  I have about 100 hiking in PA books (ok, a slight exaggeration, but I have a lot).  Some are better than others for identifying where the hikes really are or how to get there.  So in addition to picking a hiking distance (usually between 5-10 miles), difficulty (usually moderate), and region (north, east, west), I have to spend time with PA maps, a Gazetteer, and sometimes notes from previous hikes. So I wake up on Saturday morning, gather my supplies, and then spend an hour researching.

I have a great idea!

What if I picked about 20-25 hikes I might do this summer and did all the research ahead of time?

Great, I can read books and put post-it notes on the pages of hikes I like!

But wait! What if instead of putting post-it-notes in books, I created an excel spreadsheet with hike information so I can easily find the hike I want?

That would be AWESOME!

But wait!  What if I defined the regions of PA once and for all (each book uses a different way to divide the state), and made a large PA map with regions and flags for each hike I could hang on my wall?

But wait!  There’s a GOOGLE Maps API that would allow me to make a map online with links and…

But wait! if I’m going to do all this work, shouldn’t my friends benefit from it?

I could make a web page for people based in Lewisburg, and link to all the other cool sites about things to do outside…not just hiking, but camping, and canoeing, and cool day-trips and….

Maybe an intervention is in order.

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Filed under Fitness, Hiking, Relaxing, Research