My first hike of 2020

i took my first hike of 2020 today.

just a short 4 mile one, but what a treat.  did it near the city of La Quinta in the Sonoran Desert and Santa Rosa Mountains of the Coachella Valley in Southern California.  today’s temperature reached 76 on a beautiful sunny day.  i went solo.

Image result for picture of coachella valley mountains and desert

what today reminded me of was how fortunate we are to have nature and access to nature.  sounds pretty basic, but taking a hike alone in the beautiful mountains and desert of Southern California sure rang a bell for me.

that bell reminded me of three things.

  • first, how fortunate we are to have nature.  it is so powerful.  but you have to be in it to fully appreciate it, i believe.
  • second, how thankful we should be to the leaders before us that set aside certain lands and locations for our use in perpetuity.  development has not spoiled these preserved areas.
  • and finally, how meaningful it can be to just experience nature.  what a way to center yourself.  what a way to reflect.  what a way to almost meditate.  at least for me, it is.

although i have hiked hundreds of times, and have hiked the trail i took today probably over ten times, i still marvel at what i see and smell and take in around me.  i feel like a little kid seeing and experiencing something for the first time.  i am in awe.

whether it be the amazing disjointed assortment of rocks, or the newest of many erosions caused by the last significant rain fall, or the occasional raven and other birds surveying the landscape, or the constant rustling from the winds on the stark terrain, or the brilliance of the sun’s rays on rocks and mountains so close and yet so unreachable, or the unbelievable fortitude of the plant life — and surprisingly there is quite a bit — in the desert, or the vistas, whether they be of mountains, canyons, or valleys, that are never able to be fully captured in a photo, or the occasional noise in the distance or near by that might be a lizard, or perhaps even a coyote or maybe even a big horn sheep.  all of these are truly amazing.

yet, what i just described is not a museum.  it is alive and constantly changing in so many ways.  and it is being seen and experienced by a human being who is hiking through it.  i am not sitting on a rock and absorbing what i am seeing.  i am actively putting one foot in front of another.  i am placing one hiking pole in front of another.  i am expending energy.  i am hiking on some flat terrain, but also a lot of my hiking is either going up hill or going down hill.

so, just as the desert is alive with so much to take in, so am i alive with my eyes and ears very much on alert, taking in everything around me.  but even more, my breathing is reflecting the effort required to navigate the trail.  i am very conscious of my breathing.  sometimes it is quite labored.  but it brings me into the “picture” i have painted above.  it makes me part of the desert and the mountains for at least the length of time i spend on the hike.  or at least that is the way i feel when i am hiking.

today i feel grateful that i have nature to explore and thankful that i am able to explore it.

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