it is our meditation, our respite, our rejuvenation, to hike. so we find trails everywhere we go. our old hiking boots have stories of mountains and deserts, forests and rivers, dunes and sidewalks.
we choose to trek instead of anything else. for we have found that “in every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks.” (john muir, naturalist)
in these times of pandemic, our travel has been of limited scope. we have taken seriously the words of fervent scientists and medical experts to stay close to home, to wear masks, to social distance, to be always aware of putting self and others at risk. and so our spectrum of hiking trails has been reduced in range, the radius from our home none too large.
the river we hike along is well-known to us now. we know the curves in the trail; we know the bend in the river and where the water laps at the bank. we anticipate the small turtles on the rock in the tributary; we expect the butterflies to be numerous as we pass the field of wildflowers. we know where the mile markers are before we see them. we know where the mosquitoes will swarm. it doesn’t change anything for us. we still go. we still hike. for “into the forest i go to lose my mind and find my soul.” (john muir)
each time we start we are aware of how very familiar this place is. each time we finish we are aware of seeing it with fresh eyes. marcel proust’s words, “the real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes” comes to life with every booted step.
the place we go, the haven we seek, are trails that let us be quiet, trails that let us talk, trails that make us tired, trails that invigorate us. they need not be new.
each time we take any of our beloved trails or walks in the general radius of our sweet home we breathe air into anxious hearts, solace into worried minds, we stretch stress-tensed bodies, we are mindful of glimpses of eased souls, we draw inspiration from this good earth, we find the new in old.