Hiking for Happiness - A Shift in Focus
There's been a big shift in my hiking lately. I am not sure how to describe it. Burger Bench has both taken a lot of my time, but also, now that it's in its third year of being in business, it's been giving me back some of that time.
On one hand, I am running some of the time on the trails. On the other hand, I am slowing down, too.
I am training for a crazy race in the desert. I aim to simply complete it, rather than compete in it. I am working with a coach to help me improve my running. I am not a fast hiker, much less a runner. I can hike all day, but I am not built for speed. Never have been. When I started training with my coach, I warned him, "You're starting from zero."
Now, some days, I head out before dawn and eat up 10-15 miles of trail before lunch. I enjoy the time cruising on the trail, covering mileage I'd never thought I would be able to do without leaving me limping for the rest of the day (or week). Now, after my long distances on the trail, I head to work and finish off the day.
On one run, for a beautiful stretch of the Burnt Pine Trail below Cuyamaca Peak, I ran and ran, breathing in the gorgeous scent of the plants and trees as I dropped in and out of shade into West Mesa. The grasslands opened up before me and I felt like I could run forever.
I am still not what you would call a runner, but tomorrow I head out for a 20-mile day.
In other ways, I am slowing down. I also do some shorter hikes, soaking up every foot of the trail. I am returning to the beautiful places I've already been, locations that have moved me in one way or another.
I spend this time by myself or with my family, taking our time on the trail and relaxing in special spots. More and more, I am bringing my stove and making coffee, so I sit and absorb the sense of place.
I am still exploring, still climbing to the mountain peaks that surround me. Still looking for those dark spaces on the map.
I don't know how else to say it, but I am the happiest I have ever been. I am surrounded by a loving family, I live in a wonderful part of the world, I have the best job, I have great friends, and I have the freedom to travel and visit the outdoors often.
Woven throughout this happiness is my relationship with the outdoors and the people in it. Everything seems to be just getting better and better.
You, too, dear reader, are also a part of this. Thank you for reading.