"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean."
~ John Muir
One of the things that kept me (relatively) sane during the long hours of tax season was thinking about escaping to the woods.
I grew up in a family that camped and hiked, but for some reason the desire to be out in the woods only grabbed me again recently. Sure I have always thought outside > inside, and have enjoyed any excuse to get out on the road by foot or pedal, but being among the trees brings a different level of escape and renewal. There have actually been studies that show that being in the woods helps reset something inside of us
How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain
This is Your Brain on Nature
Or - is Nature right for you?
I have Cherie once again to thank. She is the one who got me into biking, running and now backpacking. Her father had always backpacked, and they had rediscovered it as a family more recently. They invited me along on their trip in 2013, and I was hooked from there on. We get away for a five day trip each summer, and I have been trying to sneak in more day hikes to be among the trees.
I turn fifty in June. 50! Seems like such a large number now that it is fast approaching. Age has never meant that much to me, and on most days I still feel 26 in my head. The body however... Sore muscles in the morning are not terribly new. They were usually a sign that I had done something active or ambitious the day before. Now I wake up with soreness unearned, and I cannot deny the passage of time.
Or can I?
I wanted to do something big, maybe a little epic to celebrate my fiftieth trip around the sun. The original plan was to run fifty miles on my fiftieth birthday. Though I have run a number of marathons, I have never ticked past that 26.2 mark. I could have friends run with me for parts of the fifty mile route, and the run could finish at a local watering hole where we could celebrate the long run I have had on the earth and road.
But it began to feel needlessly complicated. Who knows if I would be able to finish, and even if I did, were people supposed to be on call to show up whenever I managed to drag my butt across the finish line.
And the mountains were calling.
There are the truly epic hikes of the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Coast Trail - hikes along the ridge lines from the southern to northern boarders of our country, covering some two thousand miles. These are trips that would require half a year's time to complete, and like the thought of biking across the country someday, they are left as dreams until life allows me to step away that long. But I found a trail in my own backyard that seems a perfect combination of epic and realistic. And it circles the peak that has called me before - Mount Rainier. It is called The Wonderland Trail.
To be continued...