My husband and I love to hike! We have recently been traveling to some of our National Parks to see the incredible scenery there. We live in beautiful Colorado, and the trees, shrubs and other vegetation at this elevation along the hiking trails here are not the same as we have experienced in Washington, Oregon and Tennessee. Wherever we hike, we’ve discovered that there are many “life lessons” that correlate to hiking. Here are a few I have noticed. Perhaps you can think of others.
Pick your path. Use a map and make plans about where you want to go. Selecting your path, in the woods and in life, should be a conscious choice and will get you to the desired destination more predictably than haphazardly walking any path of life.
Make sure the hike you choose is reasonable for your desires and realities. Know if the trail is easy, moderate or strenuous and how much time you will need to safely make it back. You want to make sure it is reasonable for your personal health. Your goals should be something you can attain, but perhaps cause you to stretch. A hike is best if you can sense and anticipate a challenge and feel the desire to achieve it.
Never Hike Alone. Life is much richer if you can share it with others. You can help each other along the way and also share your experiences with someone.
Make sure you take water and snacks. You need to replenish and nourish yourself along the way. It is easy to lack energy when you don’t take care of your own personal needs. It is not selfish to take care of your own needs. In fact, it is essential to being able to go the distance!
If you get a rock in your shoe, stop and get it out. Little irritations can cause a big problem. A tiny rock can create a big sore on your foot and make it difficult to walk. You need to take care of issues that arise in your life as quickly as possible so they don’t become big issues. Take time to examine your feelings. Do what you can to remedy the situation: change what you are doing, say you are sorry, ask for help, etc. This will help you travel on course much more efficiently.
Don’t get so busy watching the path that you don’t remember to look up and see the scenery and view. It is easy to get busy with your daily life and forget why you are doing what you are doing. Sometimes you need to stop and look up to see the bigger picture to help you remember where you are going and why you chose this path. The view can be wonderful, the scenery exquisite, but you may miss it if you don’t occasionally stop to enjoy it.
Even when the climbing gets tough, keep going! Keep your destination or goal in mind. Sometimes you need to take a quick rest, but make sure you get back on the trail. It will be worth the effort when you get there.
Look at how the old forest and the new forest interact and need each other. There are many tall and immense trees, but the undergrowth is full of new life. The ecosystem needs both; this is part of the life cycle. You need to have both experience and young energy in your life. Reach out to make sure you have “old and young” in your life. Keep what matters and is tried and true for you, but try new things as well.
Learn new things. If you don’t know the trees and plants around you, find out what they are. The hike is more enjoyable when you know the names of the trees and bushes, flowers and rocks. You can be grateful for tags along the trail to teach you about unknown species. Life is enriched by always learning, studying and pondering about ideas that interest you. There is an infinite number of things to learn.
Stay on the designated trail. Taking shortcuts may not be safe for you or the environment. You may not know the reasons why the trail may be the best way to travel. If you take a shortcut you may miss a beautiful view, or have a more difficult climb, or encounter a dangerous hazard. Delicate tundra can be damaged by footsteps misplaced. The trail was created by someone who has been along the path before and knows how to safely reach the destination.
Notice little things that bring attention to big things. If you see acorns and chestnuts on the trail, look up to see the oaks and chestnut trees. If you see pine cones or pine needles, notice the beautiful pines. See how amazing it is to find plants that seem to grow in difficult places. Often we can find joy in the small and simple things in life.
Not everything grows in the same environment. Some plants need more light to thrive; others need shade to grow. Ferns and cactus may both be beautiful, but you won’t find them in the same forest. Each of us has different needs and desires. Nurture them in the ways that are needed. Don’t expect to find the same foliage along every trail you choose. Recognize that sometimes you are at home and sometimes you are a visitor. Don’t look for ferns in the desert or cactus in the rain forest. Create for yourself the environment in which you can thrive.
One of the beauties of life is that there are many paths ahead of you. Part of who you are is because of the paths you have already hiked. What great experiences you can create for yourself as you enjoy and experience great “life” hikes!
Note: This article was written by a guest blogger, Rolayne Sellers, my sister. I’ve been waiting to post it until Spring (at least back home). Thanks to her for a wonderful article.