Gone Hiking


I have a new hobby. Well, okay, let's just say I'm in the development phase still.

I like to be outside. I like to walk. What do you get when you combine the two? Why, hiking, of course!

I've thought about taking up hiking for several years--probably going back to my days at Baker. But seriously--hiking? In the midwest? I didn't really think it was possible. I mean, my visions of hiking do not exactly involve a paved path around tennis courts and ball diamonds at the local park.

But a couple weeks ago I decided to take a serious look into the potential for hiking in my area. As far as hobbies go, it has a pretty low start up cost. I did a little googling and found a book called Hiking [insert name of town here]. I did the frugal thing and checked it out from my local library.

Oh! What a book! There are hiking trails ALL OVER the metro area. In fact, there is a trail right across the street from where I live. I honestly had no clue it was there.

I got a little excited over this past weekend, and probably bought more "equipment" than I needed, just starting out and all. I bought the book, of course. Also a couple of t-shirts and a pair of socks designed to wick away moisture, and some "trail shoes." Trail shoes look like regular tennis shoes, but they are sturdier/stiffer and have a more rugged sole for navigating terrain a little more natural than asphalt or rubber.

After my shopping excursion, I was ready! Saturday morning I geared up and headed out to the trail across the street. There was a wide path mown into the 6 foot tall grass (the parks and rec dept apparently didn't budget $4 per gallon gas into the park mowing fund this year--all the green park areas are overgrown).

I should mention here that I really do not like bugs. Or snakes. Just as I got past being in the middle of 6 foot tall grass, I got to the trail head. "Trail head" is hiker lingo for trail entrance.

And I should mention here that I have a smidge of claustrophobia.

The trail was a good ol' nature path. It was dirt, the path was pretty much worn in by years and years of previous hikers. It was about a person and a half wide. And the thing simply disappeared into the forest. In other words, it was an honest to goodness actual hiking trail...

I stood at the trail head and psyched myself up to go in. Bugs and claustrophobia aside, I really really wanted to check out this trail.

I took a few steps in. I stopped. I realized I was woefully unprepared to hike this trail.

Did I mention my dislike of bugs? Or the fact that bugs, especially the biting kind, looooove me?

As the trees closed in around me, I realized I had no bug spray for the mosquitos and chiggers, and no head covering for the ticks. (Ick. I know. I'm really going to have to get over this bug thing if I'm going to be a hiker).

I hesitated. I didn't want to use this as an excuse to give up on the trail. But then I recalled my effort to "fight through the pain" in NOLA and the horrid consequences of my bullheadedness. Being covered in mosquito bites and chiggers, and paranoia about ticks all night, certainly not worth it.

I believe I did the responsible thing by turning around and going home. Then I went shopping again (bug spray!!). Unfortunately, the issue with my eyes left me drained the past few days, and I wasn't able to return to the trail right away. But I was able to go back today after work (see my next post). I won't let the fear conquer me!!!


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