Life is better with hiking boots…

When I was a boy and I had something weighing on my mind I would enjoy camping and hiking, immensely. The woods were the ultimate counseling session. Something about being able to commune with nature makes contemplating my captivating conditions conceivable. There is truly nothing as beneficial, to my psyche, as simply walking on dirt in the great outdoors. I enjoyed nature because the woods were my healing elixir. For the city folk out there I can understand, not comprehending a love for the woods. However, smelling the intoxicating fresh air of Mother Nature can truly be a magical experience, again “for me”. It is my absolute respite, from the hustle and bustle of an uncontrollably “hyper” city life. No matter the issue, life is better with hiking boots and a tent.
In 2000 after my divorce, my life took a turn for the “not so good”. Sadly, I did not handle it well and things went a little “haywire”. Luckily, that “bumpy” road lasted just over 6 months. After that time, I began heavy weight lifting with my friend who I grew up with. In mid-2001 he began to train me, for my very first, 26.219-mile marathon. He began to fervently encourage me, reminding me that if I can do USMC boot camp, I can do anything. Amazingly, he had done 8 marathons to that point. However, MS had different plans. I was truly discouraged when MS had begun to rear its ugly head. This had put the kibosh on the idea of a marathon. Sadly, I never got to do my first marathon because of my MS, and my friend became fat and lazy. Just kidding, he has become a fireman, saving lives and doing all that “show off” type stuff lol.
What I should have done in 2000 after my divorce was something I always wanted to do. I should have walked the Appalachian Trail, or at least part of it. I should have gone back to the days where Mother Nature was my therapist, something I needed at that time. The Appalachian Trail was a big trail for my big problem.
The Appalachian Trail opened in 1923 and held the title as the longest foot trail in the United States until 1968 when the Pacific Crest Trail had opened. The Pacific Crest Trail has a total length of 2650 miles. Although the length of the Appalachian Trail is continually debated, it is approximately 2200 miles. Thousands of people every year, attempt the Appalachian Trail in its entirety, they are called “thru-hikers”. Of those thru-hikers, only about 25% actually complete the AT in total.
Many in the USA have become so lazy that they don’t seem to understand the simple concept of “hiking”. Let me give you an example of a true experience: hiker comes out of the woods and asks a man getting into his car where “a specific” store is. The guy says “it’s about a mile down the road, where is your car and I’ll give you directions” “I’m going to walk” the hiker said. The guy looked at the hiker and said “are you sure? Because I think it’s actually nearly two miles.” “That’s ok, I like to walk,” the hiker said. The guy says “okay, but if you change your mind there is a cab company around the corner.” This shows that people just do not understand that some people would prefer to simply walk places.
Consider this: for 93% of ALL trips outside of the home, no matter the distance or purpose, Americans take the car. All of this “actual” walking that Americans do equals a total of 1.4 miles per week! This, “barely” 350 yards a day, includes all walking in the home, office, grocery store and to and fro all parking lots.
As a former hiker, it is truly disheartening when an able-bodied person drags or scoots their feet, instead of simply picking up their feet to walk. Have we become so lazy and our muscles so weak, that picking up our legs to walk is too strenuous? Another annoying thing is when someone struggles to find a closer parking spot. They drive around for 10 minutes to get a parking spot that is five spaces closer, than 10 minutes before. In case you are wondering, the average parking space is 8.5ft wide making the 5 spaces, a 42 feet closer parking space. I feel that people simply take their legs for granted, afraid to walk even a little bit more (apparently 42ft more). If they could not walk, would they miss their walking abilities? I know I do.
Things are very different now that I am in a wheelchair. Getting “therapy” from Mother Nature is not likely going to happen again. There is a local park that has a paved walking path; they even have wheelchairs to borrow, at no cost. I have visited that park, but there is still something that is missing. Although the smells of nature are there, the other therapeutic effects just do not exist anymore. Not to mention, the feeling of the dirt, rocks, and leaves under my feet, as I walk, is also missing. Going to the woods now and getting only some of the benefits, just does not get the job done. It’s like going to hear a band and the drummer and bass guitarist don’t show. You can still listen, but there is no way you will get that “feeling” you got from before. So I say to everyone out there, go out and experience nature. We must do this before the only way to see a tree is in a museum, and you have to use a power wheelchair because your legs are too weak to walk.

One thought on “Life is better with hiking boots…

  1. I’m sorry to hear that you can’t hike anymore. I wish there was something I could do to help! :/ It is a shame that people would rather park five spaces sooner, though. Usually I park far away because I want the extra five parking spaces of exercise… and because parking up close can be stressful! Lol!

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