Take a Hike

Midterm of the semester and it’s almost the end of October; my blogging (or lack thereof) is the result of too much to do and too little time to do it. I did, however, take some time out today for a hike up MT. Ascension, and it seems appropriate that I write a little something, the way a good teacher should.

The weather was a perfect 50 degrees; cold at first, I kept my pace pretty constant and didn’t stop on the way up except for the last leg that feels almost vertical. I felt fairly happy that my conditioning doesn’t seem to have gone downhill much since the summer when I was consistently logging miles on the trails.

A few people met me on the trail today and quite a few canine friends, but it wasn’t too busy. I enjoy the solitude, and especially today it was welcome. Finally, at the top, I sat for a while and looked over the town, trying to orient myself so I wouldn’t get lost coming down. Last time I hiked Ascension was with my pal Elyse, and I took us all over that mountain. We came out the opposite side from where we went in and had to walk through town back to the car. It was a good hike, but I’m completely unreliable when it comes to directions. I used to tell June, my other hiking buddy, that if she ever got mad at me, she could take me hiking and leave me; I’d never find my way out.

When I first moved to Helena, I walked the streets around my neighborhood, afraid to venture too far (the directions thing, remember?), but after a couple years, I told Adam I wanted to go hiking but I didn’t know where the trails were. He said, “Let’s go,” and he took me up MT. Helena for the first time. Soon after, I started hiking with June fairly often, and last summer I hiked at least once a week, sometimes more. There’s something about it that just makes me happy; it’s a Zen place for me. Today was no different except for the fact that I ventured alone. I made sure to pay attention to my route up, so I could find my way down again, and now I’m sorry to report to June that I could find my way out if it came to that.

Today, I’m thankful for mountains, even smallish ones, for evergreens and noisy little birds, for dirt trails and meditative silence, and for my friends who sustain me during the challenging times.