This I Believe

Michael - WALLOPS ISLAND, Virginia
Entered on February 22, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe hiking is a requirement for life. I’m not an avid hiker; I’m at best a 40 mile a year hiker, although each year I aspire to reach longer lengths. I can never seem to fit into my busy schedule the time for more than a couple of weekends a year.

Each spring, and fall I long to be in woods, I get cabin fever in the worst way. I read every book, website, magazines and blog in the vain attempt to quench my thirst for the solitude, introspection and the luxury of time to think and to be without real worries.

Each spring when I enter the woods, with my 40 lbs, external backpack, I begin a transformation from the everyday world and its worries to a simple existence. By nature I am a worrier, I even worry that I worry too much. Specifically I worry about my Daughter’s fast approaching entrance into adult hood, and how unprepared I feel she is, I worry about my job, and what I’m working on this week, and keeping things together with my wife of ten years. Its hard work, and at times an exhausting task having to shoulder such this unyielding load.

But in the woods, I slowly, by degrees, lose my everyday battles to the constant tug of my pack, and the slow ache that develops in my shoulders and back. I only begin to worry about placing one foot in front of the other, and thinking about the few possibilities I will have for dinner that evening. After some time I crawl inside of my mind, and exist there, as if my body continues its trek on a curious auto-pilot, especially since it seems to have the auto-root finder operating at peak capacity. For all its healthy merits, the beauty of hiking is that introspection that only comes when one’s distractions are limited to an endless sea of trees, an occasional gurgling stream and the companionship of a good book and a nighttime campfire.

The few weekends I will spend this year will fill up a corner of my mind with the wonderment of what I discover about myself each time I enter the veil of the American woods. When I’m done, I’m ready to shoulder those everyday worries again, I’ve been paid back in spades by that weekend among the trees.