Tag Archives: hiking as meditation

Back On The Trail, Again…

“Got a blank space where my mind should be, Got a Clif Bar and some cold green tea, Got clouds that seem to follow me, Got strange demands piled up on me,
Got memories, Got memories, Memories of being free.”

-Trey Anastasio

 

After a week of blistering heat, rain, and thunderstorms, it was finally nice to get back out on the trail again. Just to refresh everyone’s memories, I made the choice to not hike, even in the very early morning based on my fear of becoming dehydrated. Temperatures were in the 90’s with the humidity just as high. In the mornings when I would start my hikes, temperatures were already in the mid to high 70’s to low 80’s. So every day with the exception of yesterday I rode my stationary bike to keep the legs moving.

 

Being outside was a welcome respite from the days of oppressive heat and humidity. I think that this morning was the first time it has been in the very low sixties with practically no humidity in a couple of weeks. It was outstanding to feel the air on my face and hear the sound of my boots hitting the moist trail with every step.

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Looking down on a connector trail.

 

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This entire area is famous for rock walls that are in the middle of nowhere. These rock walls were used as property boundaries by farmers and landowners.

 

As you can see by the pictures, the woods are as green as they were in April and May. I have seen summers where by this time on July the woods are a barren brown from the lack of rain. But not this summer. We are being treated to something relatively rare for this area of the Northeast in late July-a lush green landscape.

 

Since the humidity was as low as it was, the sun actually felt good when you actually encountered it as it rose through the trees.

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As always, Ward Pound Ridge offers excellent hikes and the loops I have been hiking this summer have offered me the solitude and silence that I have been looking for.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #21-7/24/19-4.1-94.2

Don’t Let Them Into Your Head

“As you get older you really just want to be surrounded by good people. People that are good for you, good to you and good for your soul.”

Facebook has this great page called “Higher Perspective.” The purpose of the page is “to bring together like-minded individuals focused on personal growth and expanding their consciousness.” Now to some, this may sound a little crazy, but they do offer some really good advice for many different situations. I especially like the fact that they say “through the sharing of pictures, art, music, ideas, stories, history, and other information, we can help the population gain a higher perspective on life and improve our global situation. We can be better to our planet, better to our brothers and sisters and better to ourselves.”

That is where I found the quote for today’s post. Every day people watch the news and all you hear is negativity and hate. Is this any way to go through the one and only life we have? Those folks who know me know that I frequently say that it is a waste of mental energy to constantly engage or think about those people who really have no interest in your well being.

Even though I have said that many, many times, it has been increasingly more difficult to live by those words. It is truly a shame that people treat others the way that they do based on their beliefs.  And that last comment is meant for both sides of the political aisle.

It truly is time for folks to start treating each other with some dignity and respect. To stop the name calling and making assumptions about others based on who they follow politically and what they believe.

Regardless of what people believe, we do live in the greatest nation on earth. We live in a country where you are free to believe what you want and think what you want without the fear of retribution from the government or others.

That is why as I get older, I have less and less tolerance for the nonsense. People who treat you badly shouldn’t be a part of your life. Just because you can say something doesn’t mean you have to say something. Especially if it is mean and hurtful.

So I have made a conscious effort to distance myself from people that I only have negative interactions with. If they happen to be co-workers, I will treat them with the respect that they are due as a co-worker. After that, nothing. It isn’t worth wasting the mental energy.”

What say you? Am I crazy? Am I expecting too much? Can you at least agree that a little peace and quiet would be nice for a change?

How do you deal with the negative actions of others? For me, it has been and hopefully always will be through hiking and being outdoors.

Let me know through the comments section what you think.

No Hunting, Except For Horseflies!

“Take a course in good water and air, and in the eternal youth of Nature, you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.”

-John Muir

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Today was another beautiful day in the Hudson Valley. I read that a cold front was supposed to move through after a day of thunderstorms and high humidity and it appears they were correct. Refreshing for both the mind and the soul! And even better, not a horsefly in sight!

I had switched things up a little bit yesterday and I thought that I would go ahead switch it up again today. That’s one of the best things about Ward Pound Ridge. Not only do they have many miles of main and named trails, they also have connector trails that allow for many more options in terms of potential hikes. So as long as you have a map of the reservation, you can mix and match all you want.

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The long and winding trail…

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #14-7/1/19-4.1-63.5

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!!!

Let’s Not Repeat Last Year

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“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.

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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

The Promise Of Summer Hiking

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Summer at its finest in the Hudson Valley.

“Only by going alone in silence, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.”

-John Muir

Since my hiking last summer added up to an incredible almost 118 miles, needless to say, I have bigger plans for this summer. My first plan and goal? Not to do anything stupid that will end my hiking excursions in literally a second.

With that said, I am planning hikes all over the Hudson Valley. Bear Mt., Harriman State Park, hikes East of the Hudson, West of the Hudson and Fahnestock State Park. Anything and everything is fair game once the summer gets started.

I remember two years ago when I based many of my hikes from a book by Don Weise entitled, Circuit Hikes in Harriman, 35 Loop Hikes, and Trail Runs in Harriman and Bear Mt. State Parks and 50 Hikes in the Lower Hudson Valley by Stella Green & Neil Zimmerman. I had carefully planned out each hike carefully according to what is listed in the book. Filled with awesome views, each of the hikes that I completed were worth every step. This year, I can leave the book with either the page number or the number of the hike so folks know where I am.

Obviously, I still have several hikes from both books that I have not done so with the exception of a very few, I am going to try and do all new hikes.

And of course I’ll beat that dead horse again: My primary goal will be overall safety and hydration. I am way too old to do a repeat of last summer.

So what are the first five hikes am I looking at this summer?

  1. Anthony’s Nose-Only in the very early morning and on a weekday. Any other time and it becomes an overcrowded nightmare of city folks and small children. (Not that I have anything against these folks, but I do my best to stay away from the Nose on Friday’s and weekends.)
  2.  Parker Cabin Mountain-Chapter 10 in Circuit Hikes. Although I haven’t done this hike, the book boasts five summits and 1,640 feet of vertical climbing in a relatively short five miles. This could be a tough one.
  3. Pine Swamp Mountain-Chapter 18 in Circuit Hikes. Another hike I haven’t done, this six mile easy to moderate hike promises views of the remnants of several large iron mines.
  4. Hasenclever Mine-Yet another hike from Circuit Hikes that I have not done, this one offers a shorter hike and a longer one with views of rock formations, a Civil War Cemetery, and of course, Hasenclever Mine (chapter 19).
  5. Second Reservoir-Chapter 32 in Circuit Hikes, this falls under the category of Trail Runs and Walks. At almost nine miles, the book says you will see scenic lakes and wetlands on this hike.

Of course, the objective is to do many more than the five listed above,  but these are ones that caught my eye from reading the descriptions in the book and that I would like to do first.

As always, HAPPY HIKING!!!

 

My Favorite Place At A Snails Pace

“I dressed and went for a walk – determined not to return until I took in what Nature had to offer.”
–   Raymond Carver, This Morning

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Of course with the long weekend ahead of us, it makes perfect sense that I would make the choice to get out into the woods. So at 5:00 am I left a nice warm bed to make the journey over to Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. Even though it was 64 degrees, a pretty strong wind was blowing, making it feel much cooler than it was. Any way you look at it, it was perfect hiking weather.

Last year before my ill-fated backpacking trip, I had bought another pair of Vasque St. Elias GTX  backpacking boots. Finally, today, I decided to start breaking them in. Compared to the last three pairs I have had, these killed my feet. Instead of the usual Green to Red trail, I decided to tackle the Brown trail. At 5.3 miles, the terrain isn’t that bad and with a couple of hills thrown in, it makes for a really nice hike.

The start of the hike.

So off I went new boots and all, thinking it wasn’t going to be that bad. Now, of course, I can’t just blame the boots, because I was damn tired. For whatever reason, I had two speeds today-really slow and stop.

But that’s ok. I was still outside, I was still hiking and all was good! Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is the perfect place to take stock of what’s going on and to also clear your mind. Getting out that early is almost beyond perfect solely based on the fact that at that time of the morning no one else is out.

The Brown Trail at different points.

For me, the fact that I get to hike alone and not be bothered by anyone or anything is exactly what I need to stay sane. Today I just wished my feet didn’t hurt as much as they did. But enough of the whining, even with the new boots it still beats being inside!

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HAPPY HIKING!!!

2019 Mileage

Hike #5-5/24/19-5.3-22.8