I’m an outdoor enthusiast who loves to hike. It’s a great activity for any age and most fitness levels. The other day, I went to a favorite hiking area of mine: the Cuyuna County State Recreation Area. It was there I was struck by the activity’s versatility as I ventured on paved as well as wooded paths (the Recreation Area is a great & diverse place). Hiking is versatile in many respects. It can be done at a slow pace or hard trek. It can be done alone or with a buddy (or two). It can be done on groomed paths or while bushwhacking through the forest. Hiking is free. It’s highly accessible. It’s good for the mind and it’s good for the body.
The reason I started thinking along that line in regard to hiking (while I was on groomed & un-groomed paths through the woods while by myself) was because of two (sort of three) other hikers I saw. They inspired me.
Hiker number one: This hiker was a man I have seen many times and for many years at the Recreation Area. I know a few things about him. For starters, he is in his mid-90s. He hikes and kayaks, bikes and camps. He has been a life-long outdoor enthusiast. The weather was fine, so it’s no so terribly impressive that he was out for a hike on a pleasant late-spring day. But I’ve been spotting him year round for a long, long time.
Just last winter I saw him hiking through the snow up a steep hill in the same area. It was early in the morning and the temperature was about 15 degrees below zero. Yeah. He was the only other person I saw out there that day. In fact, I have been hiking many times and seen only him. Early in the morning. Rain. Sleet. Snow. Sun. He’s been out there.
Hiker number two (and sort of three): Hiker number two was a young mother. And the “sort of three” was the child in her backpack. She was trudging up a steep hill with that kiddo on her back and she smiled and waved at me. She looked rosy-cheeked (so did number three) and walked with intention. I admired her for taking that baby out and getting some fresh air and exercise. Go momma!
There I was in the middle of these amazing people. Not that I didn’t put any effort into getting there, but really, a momma and her baby hoofing it up a steep hill and a 90-something-year-old man getting out for a hike. I’ve heard he does something active outdoors nearly every day of the year. Amazing!
As for me, I’m a middle aged person with decent health. Hiking in my area isn’t terribly taxing (or impressive) for me. I’ve been on hikes in Colorado and Alaska in the past year that were challenging, however. Those hikes were great, but the sorts that aren’t my “normal” hiking conditions. My usual hiking conditions are somewhat steep but short climbs and many groomed woodland trails. Still, hard or easy, steep or level, woods or trails, it’s all the same activity. Hiking. A very versatile and fantastically enjoyable thing to do.