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A Sunday Hike
It was a simple event. I organized a hike for women over 50 on a Sunday morning along a lake and through the woods. Nine women showed up at the carpool connecting spot. Nine women who’ve come on Sunday for the last 6 months to challenge themselves, to find camaraderie, to get away from grandkids, husbands, or aloneness. Everyone has their reason to do this on a Sunday morning.
We missed the intended parking lot and trailhead. We found another one that would do. Maps, pages from a trail guide, phone apps and common sense told us we could connect with the intended trail from here. So we set off in a single line formation. Sunlight dappled the woodland trail, the early morning air was still cool, the poison oak ubiquitous. I listened to the high voices ringing in the cathedral of the trees, a morning song to connect and celebrate being together. Soon the voices quieted, and we heard the leaves rustling, saw the turquoise water shimmering deep below the trail, felt the swing of our legs, the softening of the creaky joints. We were on our way. The alarm cry from a bird high above us, led to searching a bird app. It was an osprey we had alarmed as we hiked below its nest. There would be babies high up in the tree! The trail wound down to the edge of the lake, scat identification left questions, raccoon or fox? We found a small fire ring filled with plastic bottles and empty beer cans. Several women filled a garbage bag to the tune of “leave no trace”. We added pileated woodpecker, lizard and the difference between Manzanita and Madrone to our knowledge and naming of nature..
Robin Wall Kimmerer in her book “Gathering Moss” says: “In indigenous ways of knowing, all beings are recognized as non-human persons, and all have their own names. It is a sign of respect to call a being by its name, and a sign of disrespect to ignore it. Words and names are the ways we humans build relationships, not only with each other but also with plants.” The book will come out in early July (link)
We named the plants and animals and built a relationship with nature. Women who didn’t know each other six months ago shared bags, water, maps, apps, laughter, huffing and puffing when going up a hill. Women reached out and held hands to help each one in the group climb over big blow-down trees. Short legs, long legs, nimble legs, stiff legs, the log showed us who we were, and we laughed about our climbing antics and rejoiced with the success we had.
Making the News
Nothing special, nine older women going on a hike on a Sunday morning, you think. It won’t make the news. The news doesn’t share the small successes. The beauty of a Sunday morning in the woods won’t make the news. The news isn’t interested in the fact that women learn about local habitat, share resources, help someone over a log.
This hike may not be news worthy, but it certainly is life enhancing. Research from the University of Exeter here tells us that spending 2 hours in nature per week is a key for promoting health and happiness. For the last 6 months I have watched these women develop confidence in their abilities, find a new resilience they didn’t know they had. I’ve seen them stretch their physical abilities by going farther and climbing higher, lose necessary weight, and try to learn to navigate in the natural world. They now come prepared with the tools of the hiking trade, they share work-out routines to strengthen their bodies so they can keep hiking.
This Sunday hike was nothing special, and yet I saw the growth that has taken place over time both in mind and body for these women. The Sunday hike has transformed their life. Now isn’t that news worthy?
Do you know of a nothing special transformation travel in your life? Please let us know!