Author Archives: The Zen Hiker

About The Zen Hiker

I am a Special Education Coordinator at a public high school in the lower Hudson Valley in Westchester County, New York. As you can see by the title of the blog, hiking is what I love to do. I get out as much as I can and although I love going to Anthony's Nose, I try to get to different spots in the area. One great thing about living in the Hudson Valley is the abundance of great hikes. You can do the same hike in different seasons and it will be as if you were hiking that trail for the first time. It doesn't get much better than that!

I Sit And Wait

I spend a lot of time saying that when I retire I am going to disappear into the woods. Not just to hike, but hoping to live out of the main stream of society. To get away from civilization and the filth that it has produced and yet it still demands its place at the table. Away from the talking bobble heads who have found that if they weren’t able read off of a teleprompter would most likely be selling the Squatty Potty at 2 am on some desolate cable network to bleary eyed souls wishing they could disappear as well. (Don’t ask how I know about that)

But here I sit, waiting. Waiting for the day when I can walk out the door for the last time. Walk out the door so this part of my life becomes a memory, one that melts as quickly as the sun sets.

Every day now I read and watch the news and the longing to disconnect from the nightmare of shit that rules the world becomes that much more overwhelming. Here are a couple of gems from the recent news:

“Boy, 16 gives brutal details in killing of pregnant high school cheerleader”

Why did he kill her? Because she hid the pregnancy past the point where she could get an abortion. So how did he solve his problem? He stabbed her in the heart and then left her body in a dumpster. Classic.

“Mom,  37, who allegedly drowned 10 month twins could face penalty”

I’m not even going to get into this one. I sense that a special place in hell exists not only for the one above, but more so for this one.

So I sit and wait. And for now, as I continue to recover, the absence of my long and almost daily hikes is becoming a mental burden. Despite the fact that the cold and often angry weather of the winter months would still keep me sane as I made my way from trail to trail and peak to peak, allowing all of the shit churning in my head to be flushed into a vast wasteland, all I can do is hope for better hiking days.

I need to be listening to the wind as it make its way through the naked trees because it has a way of enveloping me, its unique song guiding me to and through my favorite hiking spots.

People say to me, “You are wishing your life away.” No. Not wishing it away, but instead wishing, hoping and waiting for greener pastures, to find a place where although stupidity may still be present, it won’t rule the day. And yes, I am positive that the grass is greener on the other side of this fence.

So I sit and wait.

 

 

The Sawyer Squeeze-Part 2

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Paranoidunreasonably or obsessively anxious, suspicious, or mistrustful. 

These are the very words that describe my current condition as it relates to hiking. Why should I be paranoid? What do I have to be anxious about when I am in my comfort zone? According to the definition, is there truly a need to be suspicious or mistrustful of the one activity that brings me to my absolute happy place.

Earlier in the year and prior to my fall, I wrote a review on the water treatment system that I would bring with me on my backpacking trip to ensure that the water I collected would be safe to drink. Overall, it worked well and the water that was filtered was delicious.

Just in terms of a little background, prior to the end of June and on day hikes, I would carry two 48 ounce Nalgene water bottles. For most day hikes this would be a sufficient amount of water for most hikes. Longer hikes and days that are more hot and humid of course require more water. Unfortunately, in the past, there have been situations where I have run out of water.

At this point, however, I have decided that I am going to carry the Sawyer Squeeze with me even on day hikes.

This raises many questions. The biggest one being the availability of water while I am hiking. Obviously some times of the year have more water flowing in streams or in ponds than others. Most of the areas that I hike in and around have lakes, which makes the situation that much more easy.

Beyond that, I think that carrying the Sawyer Squeeze will bring me a peace of mind that I think I need as I work on getting permanently back on the trail.

Am I crazy? I don’t think so. I think that I have earned the right to be just a little paranoid.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Peace And Tranquility

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”

-Mother Teresa

It’s amazing how a single hike can change the attitude of a person for the better. I guess some people meditate to keep their sanity, some folks read and others listen to music. As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s been five very long months since I have been able to get out and enjoy the one thing that I truly love to do.

I missed a summer where it rained more often than it didn’t. I missed the change of seasons where the colors went from a dark green to darker oranges, reds and yellows. As the days passed, the temperatures fell and the hiking would have been easy. I missed interacting with my fellow hikers on the trail.

So as I made my way over the dirt, rocks and ice today, I felt that sense of peace that I have been missing since June. Even though I know that every day can’t and won’t deliver the same peace and tranquility that today did, I am thankful for today.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

 

It’s Been A Long Time

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Thinking about the upcoming hike.

It’s a great day!!! After 148 long days, many of them siting on my ass, along with hours upon hours of PT, I was actually able to head out into Ward Pound Ridge Reservation for a hike. True, it was only 2.6 miles, but it was a hike nonetheless and I didn’t have any ankle pain. Sure, my legs hurt like hell and I sure could tell I haven’t been hiking, but it felt good to be out in the woods.

I’ll keep the tale of woe short, but if you follow this blog, you know that on 6/28, I took a spill, fractured my ankle, was in renal failure, had surgery to repair the ankle, was confined to my house, had tons of PT and worked my ass off to get back hiking.

At 33 degrees with no wind or sun (tons of rain later), I knew the loop that I would be taking for my test run would be a good one. Most of the trail was flat with a couple of very short and easy hills put in just to irritate me and to test the ankle. Even as easy as it was, I was very careful to keep my eyes on the ground in front of me to look out for rocks rocks, roots and ice.

Having learned my lesson in June, I made sure that I had more than enough water with me and had consumed just about 64 ounces before leaving the house ensuring that I wouldn’t run into any dehydration issues. Yes, at this point I am that paranoid about having enough water with me even when it is a degree above freezing! I’ll have more on that in my next post.

So if I’m going to give this hike a rating, I’m going with a straight up A+.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #22-2.6-120.45

A Beautiful Day (For Hockey)

“Every day is a great day for hockey.”

=Mario Lemieux

Sorry to move away from the hiker theme of the blog, but I got some good photos of my daughter celebrating her two goals and after a collision! Even though they lost 5-3, it was a hard fought game and the entire team played well!

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Hope celebrating her first goal of the game.

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Hope on the ice after scoring her second goal.

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Back on her feet celebrating a couple of seconds later!

And the last two pictures showing her after a collision with someone from the other team.

Back To The AT RR Station

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

Before I took the photos from the last post, I stopped by the Appalachian Trail RR station to get some pictures. I have been there before but since it was such a nice crisp morning, I went back to see if I get a different perspective.

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The AT headed south at the Appalachian Trial RR station.

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Happy Hiking!!!

 

 

 

A Beautiful Fall Morning

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”

– George Eliot

Today was a beautiful day in the Hudson Valley. Thankfully, my daughters hockey game was early enough in the morning that I was able to get some good pictures at Trinity Pawling school prior to her game.

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