At high noon last Sunday I took the first step of my plan to get in shape for climbing a 14er along with my new hiking partner, Polly. We set a course for a date that will fall between our upcoming birthdays; hers in May and mine in June. In addition to our planned weekly training hikes I am committed to one solo trek each week and a 30-60 minute structured workout at home each morning.
My first celebrated solo hike was into a section of the densely wooded San Isabel Forest on the Spring Creek Trail in Chucaru, Colorado which lies at the base of the Spanish Peaks Mountains. Slowly driving toward the trailhead I felt a smile emerge that was big enough to force my eyes to squint. During the easy 3 mile trek several things became evident: the time between spectacular views, the sounds of the wind, and my penchant for counting things.
About every ¼ mile or so, I was faced with an unexpected view from the upcoming switchback that initially was a muddy trail until the 180 degree turn where before me the trail was covered in freshly snow. Further along on a sunny stretch the dark brown mud made a squish sound with each step. It was a bit slushy, with the oozing mud splashing onto the sides of my boots and bottom of my old worn ski pants. Then, as I made the turn, right in front of me was the bright pure white snow reflecting the sun so brightly I had to put on my faithful Costa Del Mar sunglasses. Even the footprints of people and dogs left by those who previously made the trek did not deter the awe expressed when stepping onto the crusty 3 inches of snow that lie ahead. Stepping in synch with the scrunch, scrunch, scrunchy sounds turned my thoughts to sailing upwind in a light breeze when the bows of my Hobie 14 would melodically tap the top of each white capped wave.
Another observation was the whispering sound of the wind. Unlike the high pitched whirring sound made when the wind picks up and turns the otherwise silent rigging into an eerie soundtrack of a mystery movie, the wind throughout the trek sounded like an oncoming vehicle speeding along the highway. Whether engulfed by the surrounding trees or reawakened by the sight of a grassy meadow, the sound of the wind kept me looking over my shoulder for an oncoming car or truck. Similarly, sailing and hiking heighten my awareness of the wind’s symphonic sounds.
The spectacular views before me and the songs of the wind in my ears enticed me to continue my trekking experience. As I got closer to the day’s summit, the unconscious counting of my steps gave me pause. On long sailing adventures, especially in a calm breeze, I would pick three exercises and rotate between them. I counted each rotation in sequence. Then I would predict how many rotations it would take until I reached a particular channel marker. Between the welcomed change in scenery and the whisper of the winds I found myself counting my steps. “How far can I go in 100 steps,” I silently asked my mind. Does anyone else do this? I never questioned it before. Suddenly today I realized it was another similarity between sailing and hiking, my unconscious behaviors.
Stay tuned for more comparisons between hiking and sailing.
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