Monthly Archives: June 2019

Yes, Forest Bathing Is A Real Thing

“Walking is the only way proven to stave off cognitive decline – it works.”
-Dan Buettner

Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner sends out via e-mail many different articles that relate to well being and reducing stress so that you can live a longer and more productive life. Yesterday, I received a link to an article that described “Forest Bathing.” Anyone that hikes will read this article and have several “AHA” Moments.

For those of us who do hike, we already know the benefits of being out in the woods. Of being out early in the morning and hearing nothing but the wind blowing through the trees, the squirrels and chipmunks running across the forest floor and the sound of your own breathing and feet striking the earth on the trail.

For me, it is incredibly reassuring. It also helps to clear my mind of all of the negative nonsense and grounds me.

So copy and paste the link below into your browser and read the article. You will be amazed that what we have been doing as hikers and known for so many years could be so beneficial.

***Apparently something is up with the link. Follow it to the Blue Zones page and just enter Forest Bathing. I apologize for the inconvenience.

https://www.bluezones.com/2019/06/forest-or-nature-bathing-ancient-practices-modern-uses-and-the-science-ofrelaxation/utm_source=BLUE+ZONES+Newsletter&utm_campaign=8ef30576dc-forest-bathing-cranberry-nut-energy-bites&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9642311849-8ef30576dc-199275553&mc_cid=8ef30576dc&mc_eid=08164130e2

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Early Sunday Morning Excursion

IMG_4749_edited

“Don’t be scared to walk alone. Don’t be scared to like it.” 

– John Mayer

“When the traveler goes alone he gets acquainted with himself.” 

– Liberty Hyde Bailey

It’s Sunday folks. So what does that mean? It means that even when I go out hiking at my usual very early time, I stand a good chance of running into people. If you follow my blog, then you know my affinity for hiking solo. I just don’t like hiking in groups. I can handle one or two good friends, but large groups? No thanks. I’d rather bathe in a large vat of poison ivy.

IMG_4755_edited

But what did I run into on this incredibly humid morning? Horseflies. What seemed like millions of them. And even though I sprayed enough Cutter on myself that I probably would have killed my dog if he came near me, but they didn’t care. Wave after wave of buzzing and biting little monsters that never stopped, well, buzzing and biting. The horror.

 

With all of that said, I can’t say that just because I encounter people I’ll stop hiking, I’ll just make believe they aren’t there. Unfortunately, I just can’t make believe the horseflies aren’t there.

IMG_4752_edited

And even though I have been battling a summer cold for the past several days, my legs felt really good. Here’s hoping for a less humid day tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

IMG_4751_edited

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #13-6/30/19-5.1-59.4

Solo Vs. Group Hiking

“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”

-John Muir

I have been thinking the last couple of days about the pros and cons of solo vs. group hiking.

In several posts over the years, I have written about the virtues of hiking solo as opposed to being in a group. For me, personally, hiking solo is the way to go. Now that I am getting a wee bit older, I do leave an itinerary so my family knows where I am. At this point in my life, it’s just a question of common sense and a hearty willingness to stay alive! But the fact remains that I still like to go it alone.

Obviously, however, I know people that feel that the more the merrier. I see on REI that they have group hikes on the weekends where they may meet at a bar, do the hike and finish the day at the same watering hole. They like the camaraderie and the overall social aspect of being in a group. Some folks are new to hiking and don’t have the confidence needed to be out there alone.

Since REI and other hiking clubs continue to offer these types of excursions, they must be pretty popular. As a matter of fact, in Bear Mt. several years ago, I ran into my cousin in the middle of nowhere and she was a member of a group of about 30. Too many people for me.

The bottom line in this situation is that people are getting out hiking. They may not feel comfortable hiking alone for a myriad of reasons. And that is cool. At least they are taking that first step (no pun intended). I fully believe that once you gain the experience and confidence and you head out by yourself, especially for the first time, you will find yourself in a whole new world. The possibilities become endless. 

What I see as the most complicated issue with group hiking is just being tied down by the group itself. From talking to people who have done these types of hikes, they say that they have had times where they might have wanted to stay on a peak or go in another direction but couldn’t because you would need group consensus for that to happen. To lengthen a hike or stay by a lake for longer than what may be scheduled all would need approval from the group or at the very least, the group leader. That’s too constricting for me and what I want to accomplish on my hikes.

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

-John Muir

So into the woods I will go, for as long as I can, solo.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

 

 

 

 

Let’s Not Repeat Last Year

IMG_4739_edited

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

– John Muir

A year ago today, after a night of heavy rain, I experienced the single worst day of hiking that I ever have had in over 40 years of being out in the woods. For those of you who don’t know, at approximately noon on 6/28/18, I slid on rock and as my left foot became wedged between a “^” shaped stone, I fell to the right and heard a loud crack. As I tried to get up, I knew something was really wrong.

As my two hiking companions called 911 and set up a tarp for shade, I began throwing up and realized that something was much more wrong than my ankle. I began passing out and after several hours, park rangers arrived to carry me out of the woods.

To make a long story short, due to being dehydrated, my kidneys were failing and I spent six days in the hospital before they could perform surgery on the broken ankle. The end result? A summer of sitting on my rear end. It was a long and incredibly boring summer.

So now, a year later, the only residual effects I have is half of a foot that is numb most of the time. I was told that this might happen but now it is getting old.

But today, as most of the days have been recently, have been kind to anyone hiking. Temperatures haven’t been that bad and for the most part, and the humidity has been acceptable. Almost perfect hiking weather.

 

 

Now you have to remember that I am out on the trail usually no later than 6 am, with most days being earlier so I wouldn’t expect too many problems with the heat and humidity.

 

 

This morning I did a reverse loop of one of the many that I have completed in Ward Pound Ridge. Although it was pretty much uphill for the first mile, that was ok, I didn’t feel bad and I have to get used to hiking some hills anyway.

IMG_4746_edited

That’s one of the many things to love about Ward Pound Ridge!

Happy Hiking!!!

2019 Mileage

Hike #12-6/28/19-4.1-54.3

Put One Foot In Front Of The Other…

“I woke up this morning with a sense of peace. It has been many months since I felt this way. As I entered the woods a short time later, it felt as though a giant weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.”

-MPD

IMG_4735_edited

The entrance to the trails off of  Michigan Road in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

Although the air was still and cool, the humidity was higher than I would have liked. With that said, it didn’t matter, I was out hiking. Obviously, the quote above is mine and it is 100% accurate. The peace I felt this morning as I got ready for my hike felt good, and thankfully it carried over to the hike itself.

As I made my way past the information board at the start of the trail, I could see that the trail itself was still wet from rain that fell the night before. As I mentioned in a previous post, the smell of the soft wet earth is unlike no other smell. It is awesome! As my boots sunk into the trail, I was quickly reminded how lucky I was to be out in the woods doing what I love. The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other is so basic, and yet it provides so much tranquility and well being.

IMG_4737_edited

Silence and solitude.

IMG_4738_edited

Many of the trails at Ward Pound Ridge look just like this, well taken care of and nice soft earth to hike on,

My goal for the summer is a simple one. To retain my peace of mind.

The question now is, how can I accomplish this?

2019 Mileage

Hike #11-6/27/19-4.5-50.2

Summer Break Is Here

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

-John Muir

Tomorrow is the official first day of our summer break. The quote I chose to welcome in the next 62 days is more than appropriate for the occasion. Tomorrow will be my 11th hike of the year. I was hoping to get out more prior to the end of school but it just wasn’t in the cards. My number one goal for the summer is to stay out of the hospital.

Although the hikes that I have done to this point have been pretty short, I have been carrying 2 48 oz Nalgene Bottles as well as a 32 oz Gatorade Zero (an excellent addition to the Gatorade Line). As it gets warmer and more humid, I will add a third 48 oz bottle of water and maybe even a fourth. I am doing my best not to have a repeat of last summer. Hydration is the key!

So, now that  the school year is officially in the rear view mirror, I can start checking off some of the hikes that I listed in a previous post. My plan is to start with a few longer hikes in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation just to get back into decent hiking shape.

The weather looks pretty hot for the rest of the week so when I do get out, it will most certainly be in the very early morning hours. Four thirty to five AM starts. That’s what I’m talking about.

I’ll leave you with this: John Muir said, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” 

I read those words and they are sacred. You have to get out and immerse yourself in what cleanses your soul and allows you to put one foot in front of the other day after after day. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Everyone, especially my colleagues, have a great summer! Get out and hike!!!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

2019 Mileage

Hike #10-6/22/19-4.4-45.7

The Second Day Of Summer

“Back on the trail mon.”

-IB TAT

It seems crazy, but the temperature this morning at 5:47 am was a crisp and cool 55 degrees. That’s almost unheard of on June 22nd of any year. The second day of summer! But it was. Of course, that translated into an outstanding hike in Ward Pound Ridge.

Since this week our students were testing, I wore my new Vasque St. Elias GTX hiking boots every day and broke them in instead of doing so out in the woods. I wasn’t actually sure that it would work, but based on this mornings hike, it proved to be an excellent idea. This is my fourth pair of the Vasque St. Elias backpacking boots and every pair has outperformed the previous one. They are just fantastic backpacking boots.

IMG_4730_edited

As you can see by this picture and the ones at the start of the post, the amount of rain that we have had this year has made the woods a lush and vibrant green. Once again, I made it out early enough so that I only ran into one gentleman walking his dogs, one of whom could have been my labs’ twin brother. Not to make fun of either of them, but they both lumbered along with the same kind of dumb look. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

As usual, however, it was still nice just to be out in the woods doing some hiking. I’m still trying to get back to where I was prior to my unfortunate incident last summer and slowly but surely it’s happening.  I really felt good.

In just a few days the school year will be over and if I choose to do so, I can get out every day. In a recent post, I mentioned some hikes that I want to do this summer. I’m hoping that the 62 of days of summer break go as slow as the 2018-2019  school year went fast. My objective? Get as many hikes and miles in as humanly possible.

It’s going to be a great summer.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

2019 Mileage

Hike #10-6/22/19-4.4-45.7