Tag Archives: meditation

The First Ride Back

“Your body can stand almost anything. It’s your mind you  have to convince.”

-Anonymous

After 65 days of no form of aerobic exercise, I was finally given permission by my surgeon and physical therapist to start riding the stationary bike again. Up until June 28th I had either hiked or rode my stationary bike no less than 6 days per week for the past three years. Of course I had regularly exercised prior to that, but not at the distances that I had been able to work up to.

When I decided to ride bike today I really didn’t know what to expect. How long should I ride? How much resistance should I put on the bike? And the biggest question, How much is it going to hurt?

So I climbed on the bike with just a little bit of hesitation and set my stopwatch for 15 minutes. I took a deep breath, put the resistance on two and started pedaling.  Starting pretty slowly, I was surprised that I didn’t feel any pain. Of course the doctor and the PT had told me that since it is not a weight bearing exercise it probably wouldn’t hurt, but what do they know?

One minute passed, then five, and at the fifteen minute mark, the alarm sounded. Since I didn’t feel any pain, I decided to go for another fifteen minutes. When that fifteen minutes ended I was even more shocked to find that I still wasn’t in any pain.

I will admit that as I climbed off of the bike and began stretching, I felt a great sense of relief.

I’ll count this first workout on the road to recovery a success!

 

 

Camino de Santiago

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A couple of days ago I wrote that after careful consideration, a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail was not going to happen. After consulting with my doctor, the fact that something could happen during a thru hike related to being dehydrated and my kidneys was too much to ignore. Also, if I were to get injured on the trail, I’m not confident that I would be able to either get out under my own power or be able to contact someone for help. This latest incident really made me think!

So what am I to do? A couple of years ago two of my colleagues completed a portion of the Santiago de Compostela. As I sat in my usual spot earlier this summer waiting and waiting for my ankle to heal, I thought about that and began researching what it would take to hike the entire Camino Frances.

What is the Santiago de Compostela you might ask? (taken from Wikipedia)

“The Camino de Santiago “Pilgrimage of Compostela”; known in English as the Way of Saint James among other names, is a network of pilgrims’ ways serving pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. It is also popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts and organized tour groups.”

Although there are many different routes to get to Santiago, “The commonly agreed-upon route for El Camino de Santiago (a.k.a. the Way of St. James) begins at Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, and travels 500 miles through four of Spain’s 15 regions, ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.” This is the route that I intend to take.

Because so many people choose to hike, walk or bike the Camino, it has actually become a livelihood for the poeple living there and as a result has been broken up into 32 stages. Although the distance of each of the stages are similar, the difficulty can range from really difficult to really easy. It all depends on the day. They say you should allow for a total of 35 days to hike the Camino Frances, but some take longer, some shorter. There are so many towns and villages along the way so that if you decide that you want to go longer one day or cut a day short, it’s all up to you.

This is the main reason I have chosen to hike the Camino Frances. The fact that being isolated along the Camino is next to impossible, water is plentiful and places to stay are in abundance makes this an ideal place to spend a month or two right after I retire. You can even add on mileage at the end to add a hundred or so miles to your trek!

So the dream for now to thru hike the AT is gone. That’s ok. The large amount of other places to experience what it offers can be found elsewhere and I think that I have found it.

Has anyone reading this hiked any part of the Camino de Santiago?  Is anyone planning to do so? Let me know. 

 

 

Sunday Morning Mindfulness

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”

~William Blake

Sunday mornings are always a good morning for hikes. This one was as well, but I was still a little tired from the 10 mile hike that I did late Friday so I knew I wouldn’t be doing a repeat! With that said, the Green Trail looked like the way to go. Three and a half miles was enough to get me in the proper frame of mind for the day!

Happy Hiking!!!

2017 Mileage:

10/15/17-3.5-288.12

Albany->Ward Pound Ridge

“When we are pushed and pulled in many different directions, we lose our sovereignty. We’re not free. Don’t allow yourself to be carried away anymore. Resist. Each mindful step is a step toward freedom. This kind of freedom is not political freedom. It’s freedom from the past, from the future, from our worries and our fears.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

After an unexpected trip to Albany on Friday the 13th, I was left with a couple more hours of daylight than I was used to. Knowing this, I decided to go for a hike. The weather was beautiful and a nice cool breeze washed over the woods. Despite the fact that I had driven over four hours, I felt surprisingly good as I made my way on to the trail. My goal at first was to walk the original 5 1/2 miles of the Labyrinth but I hoped to do more.

Finishing the last couple of hundred yards of the first loop, I still felt good and knew that I would be able to do a few more miles. Instead of doing the Red Trail again, I broke off when it intersected with the RT and followed until it met up with the Yellow Trail. This brought me back to the car.

Truly an exercise in trying to find your inner peace!

Happy Hiking!!!

2017 Mileage:

10/13/17-10.2-284.62

 

R/G->R->RT->Y->Connector->R

“One of the riches the wilderness has to offer is a prolonged immersion in absolute silence.”

-Colin Fletcher 

When my alarm went off this morning I knew that time was against me. The forecast was for rain, and after ever so slowly crawling out of bed, I looked at the radar on my phone and just as I thought, things didn’t look good. So the battle in my brain began. Do I just forget about hiking for the day? Do I take the risk and get out before the rain starts? Do I listen to that pesky little voice that was telling me to go back to bed? Or do I ignore it and just head out the door.

Since I hadn’t hiked since Thursday, I grabbed my water bottles, shouldered my pack and made my way to the jeep. Yes, even though the odds were against me, I made my way to Ward Pound Ridge.

When I got to the reservation, it was still creepy dark. Knowing that I was going to have to wait about 20 minutes before I could get onto the trail, I looked at the weather again and saw that I had 105 minutes until the rain would start. Five minutes later, it said 115 minutes. Five minutes later it was down to 108 minutes. What was happening? At that point, I made the command decision to start hiking.

If you take a look at the title of this blog entry, it details the route I took today. When I got to the end, it was in the realm of possibility that I could do a few more miles if the rain wasn’t to close. I took out my phone and checked the forecast. Sure enough, I had ten minutes until the rain would start. But would it? Was it telling me the truth? Did I want to chance it? I decided to head back to my car.

Sure enough, ten minutes later it started rain, no, pour….

Happy Hiking!!!

2017 Mileage:

10/8/17-4.5-269.62

A Labyrinth…Of Sorts

 

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“With a labyrinth, you make a choice to go in – and once you’ve chosen, around and around you go. But you always find your way to the center.”
-Jeff Bridges

“A labyrinth is a symbolic journey . . . but it is a map we can really walk on, blurring the difference between map and world.”
-Rebecca Solnit

If you have read enough of my blog, you know that I hike for many reasons. Although the physical benefits are obvious, the ones that aren’t many times are the positive ones that you receive that are psychological in nature. After a good day, bad day or indifferent one, hiking offers the mental cleansing I need to keep moving forward, both literally and figuratively.

Recently I have been researching the Labyrinth as a form of walking meditation and I think I have found parallels to what I experience when I am out in the woods hiking, especially a trail that I discovered several weeks ago in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

The Labyrinth Society says  that:

“A labyrinth is a meandering path, often unicursal, with a singular path leading to a center. Labyrinths are an ancient archetype dating back 4,000 years or more, used symbolically, as a walking meditation, choreographed dance, or site of rituals and ceremony, among other things. Labyrinths are tools for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation, also thought to enhance right-brain activity. Labyrinths evoke metaphor, sacred geometry, spiritual pilgrimage, religious practice, mindfulness, environmental art, and community building. ”

When I read the definition above, I couldn’t help but think of The Red Trail at the Ward Pound Reservation. At about 5 1/2 miles, the trail offers a varied enough terrain to allow for the same benefits that have been found with traditional labyrinths. Flat earthen surfaces combined with multiple short rocky climbs allow the hiker to find solace in the journey that they are taking. The trail has enough twists and turns as you make your way around the park to keep things interesting.

The most beautiful thing about this trail is that built within the loop are several other trails or connector trails that can either lengthen or shorten your journey. A little more than half way through the hike is a nice set of rocks that although during the summer do not offer many views, will be absolutely magnificent in the fall and the winter. You can sit on these and reflect on where you have been and where you are going. It is also a great place to eat lunch if you choose to do so!

The differences in a traditional Labyrinth and what I have described above are obvious. With that said, you can use what you have at your disposal to help achieve the peace that you are either looking for or trying to maintain.

Happy Hiking!!!

 

A Respite On The Nose (11)

“Thoughts come clearly while one walks.”

-Thomas Mann

“Never trust a thought that didn’t come by walking.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

As the week has progressed, the temperature and humidity in the Hudson Valley has risen into the 90’s. Being as hot and humid as it is supposed to be, I decided not only to keep today’s hike relatively short, but also something familiar. Soooo…..another trip to the Nose seemed to be in order.

When I started the hike at 5:50 am, the temperature was already over 70 and the dew point was equally as high. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I was sweating buckets! Even at this early hour, the hiking wasn’t easy with the oppressive air sitting right on top of you. But once you get to the top, it makes it all worthwhile.

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A hazy morning on the Nose.

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Looking Northeast from the Nose.

Summer 2017 Mileage:

7/19/17-3.7-54.62