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You, Me, Stillman, And Dupree…

Although I love my Kindle, I am cursed with the ability to buy books at will. If I’m reading another book or an article that I found on hiking or the outdoors, I’ll click on the link and head on over to Amazon. And then I can’t resist. If I am even remotely interested in the book, I will add it to my library and it will sit there until I get to it. It could be a few days, a month, a year, or several years. It all depends.

So, as I was reading another book, the name Scott Stillman came up. What interested me even more was the title of the book that was being recommended. Released in January, I Don’t Want To Grow Up: Life, Liberty, and Happiness. Without a Career offers readers an insight as to what it is like to be able to seek out life’s adventures without the hassle of every day life. The ability to just pick up and go almost whenever you want to, just to climb that mountain, hike that trail or surf that wave.

Isn’t that what we all want to do? I am now in that unique position where if I want to hike a certain trail that may not be close to my home, I can do so. Since I am retired, I don’t have to worry about work and as long as my wife has my schedule, it shouldn’t be a problem.

The author says this about his most recent book:

My fellow readers…

At first glance, this book may appear as a departure from my nature writing. Upon reading it however, I’m confident you will find it is not. As you might know by now, I find it impossible to discuss any matter without also discussing nature. We are inseparable.

So here you go–another nature book. Part memoir, part philosophy, part how-to, part prayer for a better future–but a nature book, nonetheless. You will find it different, yet the same.

My sincere hope is that it finds its way into the hands of someone who’s suffering. Struggling to find their place in this crazy world. Struggling to grow up.

If it helps a single person, I’ll consider it a success.

Thanks for allowing me this opportunity. Thanks for your continued support. My gratitude is boundless.

Scott makes it clear to his readers. If you want to adopt this type of lifestyle before you retire, you can. If you haven’t seen the movie You, Me and Dupree, I strongly recommend it. Dupree, one of the lead characters in the movie, has adopted the lifestyle that Stillman celebrates in his book.

At 183 pages, I was able to knock it out in under a day. Looking at pursuing some adventures, I thoroughly enjoyed the book as well as the message it sent. So many people are caught up in the cycle of adulthood that they can’t even think about undertaking even weekend adventures because of life.

But as I am finding out, life might not always be here tomorrow.

Here is the description of the book that Amazon offers:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

We’ve been asked this question over and over, practically since the day we could walk.

Many of us have absolutely no idea. We never have and we never will. This bothers us terribly, and on a profound level. We feel useless, disconnected, scattered, unfocused. If we could just make up our minds—about something, about anything!

What if you didn’t have to grow up?

Society would like us to believe that to be successful, we need careers. But let’s face it—we’re not all meant to be doctors, lawyers, scientists, and accountants.

Some are meant to be dreamers.

The people on the fringes of society who don’t necessarily subscribe to the modern version of the American Dream. Artists, adrenaline junkies, nomads, life seekers. Those who doubt conventional wisdom, question authority, and continually search for newer, better ways to live.

The world needs freaks—now more than ever before.

Is the career-less path really so bad?

Could it actually be a calling?

Find out for yourself.

Get it Now.

Think about where you are in life and decide how you want to move forward. You may be in your 40’s with the standard accoutrements of a suburban husband or wife. Can you make a decision to downsize and simplify your life so you can complete some of the adventures that you have no doubt been thinking about for years. Don’t kid yourself, we all have things that we have dreamed about doing, some for a pretty long time.

Needless to say, this book is worth the read. If anything, it will get you thinking.

If you could just take off, even if it is only for a few days or weeks, would you?

And to answer that other great question, What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be FREE!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

“My Favorite Weather Is Bird Chirping Weather.”

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.”-Anne Bradstreet

“The promise of spring’s arrival is enough to get anyone through the bitter winter.”-Jen Selinsky

“Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?”-Neltje Blanchan

Spring is my second most favorite time of year. Not to sound cliché, but it really does represent hope, and a chance at mental, if not some form of physical rebirth. Although it isn’t the same exact thing as hiking, riding my studio cycle all winter definitely puts me in a better place physically and mentally as the season changes. I may hurt after the first few hikes, but it won’t be as bad as if I had been dormant all winter. At this point in my life that isn’t an option.

One of my favorite activities when I am walking through the woods is to take pictures. I have found that even though sometimes I might do the same hike, it is incredible how the pictures I take are so drastically different. Most of the time I will try and focus on something new each time I hike to photograph. I like to think that I come up with some pretty good photos. It’s also nice to see the season change from spring to summer.

These are some photos I took as the day was ending yesterday in my backyard.

The end of a nice 75 degree day!
Another angle.
This was taken the day after a blizzard.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Another Spring Is Upon Us

“Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.”-Gustav Mahler

“Spring adds new life and new joy to all that is.”-Jessica Harrelson

“Spring will come and so will happiness. Hold on. Life will get warmer.”-Anita Krizzan

“The beautiful spring came, and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.”-Harriet Ann Jacobs

Even though the temperature may say something a little different, today happens to be the first day of spring. And as with every other spring over the course of the last 45 years, it brings a sense of hope and rebirth. The snow, which stayed on the grass for a couple of months, is now gone and the birds that I have come to recognize as the first signs of spring, have already started their alluring call to get us outside. Looking at our weather forecast for next week, the lows gradually move from the 20’s into the low 40’s with the highs being in the 50’s and 60’s. Perfect hiking weather!!

Although fall may be my favorite season, spring is a very close second. You see, in about a week, I’ll do the same circular route for three or four (maybe more) days in a row. Why? Because the one thing that I love to see are the changes in the woods as the trees fight off the last vestiges of winter. Seeing the green again cover the forest floor gives me hope. Hope that the air will be sweet and the trails will be as ready for us as we are them. For just a little bit of inspiration, listen to Phish’s Lawn Boy. It doesn’t matter what version (preferably live of course), it will get you thinking of treading down the path.

Until that time comes, start getting ready for that first spring hike. I see no shame in having everything ready so if you make an impulsive decision to get outside, you will be ready. My pack is already in a state of anticipation. It sits with my boots and hiking poles waiting. Waiting to be called into action to carry me through the woods. Of course, today I will take everything out of my pack again and repack it, making sure that I have everything I need. The only thing left will be those last minute items like water and snacks.

So join me. Join me in either waiting or if you are more inclined to get out while it’s still a little chilly in the morning, join me in celebrating another spring of what will undoubtedly be a fine season of hiking heading into the summer.

Don’t Forget The Diet

“I saw many people who had advanced heart disease and I was so frustrated because I knew if they just knew how to do the right thing, simple lifestyle and diet steps, that the entire trajectory of their life and health would have been different.”-Dr. Oz

“Think about it: Heart disease and diabetes, which account for more deaths in the U.S. and worldwide than everything else combined, are completely preventable by making comprehensive lifestyle changes. Without drugs or surgery.”-Dean Ornish

One of the things that I have thought a great deal about since my heart attack is my diet. I have always exercised, but as an adult, my diet has been shit. I mean seriously, if you live in America, the choices you have to live a really, really bad lifestyle are endless. Taco Bell (used to be my favorite), McDonalds, BK, KFC and all of the rest contribute to a great deal of misery and unfortunately, death in this great nation of ours.

During the nine days I was in the hospital, I was able to do something that I don’t think I could have done if I was home. I actually detoxed myself off of sugar and any foods that are really bad for you. Since my daughter was home from school, I sat down with her and with the help of the internet, we figured out a diet that would suit my diabetes and heart condition. She spent (according to her) several days going through the house getting rid of anything that didn’t fall into the new plan of healthy eating.

So, after leaving the hospital, I went home not really sure if I was going to have the willpower to stick to a diet that didn’t include at least some of my favorite crappy foods. Fortunately, I think that since I was able to detox in the hospital, when I got home it was much easier to stay off of the garbage. Fourteen months later, I can say that I am still not eating the useless foods and have adopted what I think is a pretty good diet. I can also tell you that with the change in diet and the continued exercise, I feel better than I have in years.

After several months I found that although many of the recipes I was eating were really good for my diabetes, they were high in sodium, which isn’t great for the heart in regards to water retention.

So once again I went to the internet (Amazon this time), and I found an excellent cook book with recipes from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association entitled, Diabetes and Heart Healthy Meals for Two.

The best thing about this book is that it runs the gamut of everything that you would want to eat, from soups and salads to meats, poultry, and vegetarian dishes. It also includes side dishes, breakfasts and dessert. Seeing as how it addresses both Diabetes and people with Heart Conditions, it makes a perfect cook book to use if you are trying to eat healthy.

Of course, I am not an expert in all things healthy, but I can tell you that I haven’t found any recipes that have not been edible. They’ve actually been really good.

Now the question that I have been wrestling with for these many months as I recover and also stay isolated from anyone who might kill me with COVID is this: If I had been eating better over the course of the last 30-40 years, would I have developed heart disease and diabetes? Although my mother had a bad ticker, it was her life long addiction to cigarettes that did her in.

One thing that you will never see me do is blame anyone but myself for my medical conditions. So many people these days spend their lives blaming everyone but themselves for the condition that they are in.
Only one person has that responsibility and blame and that person is you.

It’s Just Around The Corner…

“Hike more, worry less.”-Unknown

“After a day’s walk, everything has twice its usual value.” – G.M. Trevelyan

“Without adventure civilization is in full decay.” – Alfred North Whitehead

It has been a long winter. In between snowstorms and the cold, I haven’t been out hiking in quite a while. But the time is coming. Just the other day it was 51 degrees.          Of course, it wasn’t the same 51 degrees that will feel much warmer in the next few weeks, but 51 is much, much better than 21.

So, what do I have to look forward to? Now that I am retired, my days are my own. For now, I ride my studio cycle as often as I can, but as soon as it is possible, I will be out in the woods. For now, it looks like I’ll be spending a great deal of time in the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. I want to spend some time there to get myself into shape for the more strenuous hikes in Bear Mt. and across the river. Each of the hikes will of course be documented here on the Zen Hiker.

Although I mentioned it in an earlier post, I have had to make adjustments as to the type of daypack that I can carry, even for short hikes. Because of an implanted defibrillator, I can not use any type of pack that has two straps. Apparently, if I have any type of weight in my day pack, it will put unnecessary stress on the point of implantation. As a result, I had to look for pack with only one sling in the center so I could avoid the defibrillator. This is much more difficult than you would think. After a great deal of research, I decided on the RUSH MOAB™ 10 SLING PACK 18L.

In a Best of 2021 Sling Bag list, the reviewer says, “Get your gear in order with this fully customizable tactical bag made from water-resistant and incredibly lightweight 1050D nylon. The fully cushioned adjustable shoulder strap makes it easy to find your customized fit. This sling pack offers plenty of organized storage areas. An interior stash pocket paired with a hydration pocket and a pass-through port make it easy to stay hydrated too.”

Although the size of the bag will take some getting used to, it’s just one more thing that I have to make adjustments for if I want to keep hiking. I can’t tell you how many times I have scoffed at the idea of being a minimalist, even if it is for day hikes, but at this point I don’t have much of a choice.

So, then the question becomes, “What should be a priority for me to carry on my day hikes?”

Here is a list of must haves:

  1. Water-How much depends on how long.
  2. Water Filtration-Instead of carrying to much water, if I know that I am going to be hiking near water, I can use my Sawyer Squeeze.
  3. First Aid Kit
  4. Cell phone for emergencies
  5. Toilet Paper
  6. Camera-I have a Canon, but if my new phone takes pictures that are comparable, I’ll use that.

All of these items will go into the main compartment of the bag. In the smaller, less exposed pockets I will keep my wallet, FOB for my vehicle and the map of the area that I am in.

As much as I would like to carry what I used to, it just won’t be possible. But that’s ok. I will be out hiking!!!

A Foggy, Misty Morning

“You can walk in a dream while you are awake: Just walk in the misty morning of a forest!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

“For a spiritual journey, you don’t have to meditate or visit a temple or listen to a guru! Just live a misty morning while the sun is rising!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

Even though sunny fall days are excellent, so are days like these when a light mist is falling and the fog surrounds you. It is peaceful and the tranquility it provides a sense of calm. These photos and the ones from the other day are the reason I love Autumn so much!

Fall In Mahopac

“I hope I can be the autumn leaf, who looked at the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift.”-Dodinsky

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love—that makes life and nature harmonize.”-George Eliot

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”-Unknown

Fall is without a doubt the best time of the year. The long hot days are gone, but the misery of winter hasn’t gotten here yet. Not that I don’t like Winter, but if it is a really, really cold one, it’s no fun. Having a lot of snow doesn’t have the same allure that it did when my kids were young!

So I went for a walk today in the woods that surround my house for the sole purpose of taking some pictures so I could write this blog entry. I love the sound of the leaves as they crunch under my feet and the warmth of the sun as it makes its way through the trees. It is beyond description and it is a shame that it only lasts for a short time.

I hope that you enjoy the photos!

This is about 100 feet outside of my house.
You can see from the light in the background that many trees have fallen during the storms we have had over the years.
We all end up here sooner or later.
A solitary leaf before it separates and begins its slow journey towards death.
I love trees in Black and White.
Although it was chilly, the sun coming through the trees was enough to warm me.

Ward Pound Ridge

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” – Unknown

 “A walk in nature walks the soul back home.” – Mary Davis

Three days ago my friend and I went to Anthony’s Nose. Today, even though I hiked alone, I wasn’t alone. WPR was packed with people at the trailhead and it made it difficult at the beginning to get by other hikers. As I made my way up the trail, however, the crowds thinned out and I did get to enjoy some moments of peace and quiet. This hike reminded me again of why I really enjoy hiking in the early morning. No people!!!!

As you will see in the two pictures below, I also came across this lengthy inhabitant of the woods. From a distance I though for sure it was just a stick and then it moved!!!! I took the pictures and then moved on my way.

An unexpected friend on the trail.
He wasn’t too happy to see me.
Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

The next photo shows my favorite rock to take a break at about the two mile point. If you notice, I had too get a new pack. Since I had a defibrillator implanted, I can no longer use a conventional daypack with two straps as it would place pressure on the spot of the implant. So after a little research, I found a 10 liter sling pack. This will take some getting used to.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Back To The Nose

“Hiking and happiness go hand in hand or foot in boot.” – Diane Spicer

 “To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.” – Lao Tzu

After an absence of over two years, I finally got back to Anthony’s Nose. This was also the first hike that I have been on in over a year. Needless to say, it was more difficult than I wanted it to be. Oh well, it still felt good to be back out in the woods. This, of course, was the plan for retirement prior to my heart attack.

The start of the trail on South Mt. Pass.

As with every hike in this area, it seems that the start is always a punishing uphill climb. If not in the steepness of the climb then the overall length. The same holds true for getting to the Nose via South Mt. Pass. But I took it slow as I was with my good friend Jaime who had promised me when I was in the hospital that he would go with me on my return hike. Friends like these are hard to find!

Since I hadn’t been hiking in so long, the trip to the summit took quite a bit longer than I thought. But that’s ok, just feeling the breeze and the sun on my face made the slow journey worth every minute.

Looking back down the trail we had just come up.

A part of the trail with blowdowns from a recent tropical storm.
A beautiful view of Bear. Mt. from the Nose.
Many, many hidden hikes are in those hills.
Looking north on the Hudson from the alternative viewpoint.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

I Just Want To Hike

“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary

Hiking and happiness go hand in hand or foot in boot.-Diane Spicer

It has been a long year. Starting with my heart attack (actually on 12/26/19), it quickly went from bad to worse with the onslaught of COVID, and it didn’t seem like anyone could catch a break. With that said, I can count my retirement as a blessing. Truly a dysfunctional workplace, those poor folks are in the midst of trying to figure out what it is going to be like when they return in just a few weeks. 

Due to my hearts poor functioning, I had to wear a portable defibrillator for seven months instead of the forty-five days that they originally thought. On 7/31/20, I finally had a defibrillator implanted and have been recovering from that. 

My biggest wish, however, is to get back into the woods. My daughter and I went for a walk the other day and it just wasn’t the same. I want to walk on the dirt and feel the breeze as it filters through the trees. I want to take pictures of stupid things like rocks, trees, and insects. I want to be able to choose my route instead of watching the tv while I ride. 

But I still have an issue that I am trying to figure out. The spot where they implanted the defibrillator is just above the left breast. So when I go back in a week, I need to ask my doctor if I will be able to even carry a pack. The strap of even a daypack goes right over where the defibrillator is and when my pack is filled with everything I need even on a short hike, will put pressure on the device. I don’t know how much weight, if any, I will be able to carry.

So my question goes out to all the hikers out there. Do you know of any alternatives in terms of packs that would alleviate that situation? I figure that I would need to carry two Nalgene bottles, my first aid kit, GPS, and other assorted necessities. 

Feel free to put any suggestions in the comments below.

HAPPY HIKING!!!