Take a Hike: February 2022

I have never considered myself to be “outdoorsy.” I mean, sure I liked to camp every now and then, and I appreciated the wide open spaces, but I am not one of those REI-inspired, granola-eating, wool sock-wearing kinda people.

Then, I moved to Palm Springs.

Throughout my life I had been drawn to the magnificent San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountain ranges. Their beauty has always calmed and centered me, and they provide a stunning cloak of refuge for the Coachella Valley.

When I moved here, I quickly learned that a lot of other folks appreciate their beauty as well. So much so in fact, that this time of year, you see little dots of people climbing along their expanses. At night this can be quite dramatic as you see pinpoints of light traversing the hills of Tahquitz Canyon as night-hikers make their way home.

During my first full-time year out here, I had settled into a nice gym routine. Lift weights, pound the elliptical machine, rinse and repeat. I like to sweat, so that did the trick.

Then, COVID struck.

No more gym, no more exercise machines. As I am taco-obsessed, I wondered, “How am I to work off my addiction?”

“Look to the hills!” A voice called in my head. “Take a hike!”

It was March, so it wasn’t too hot. I took my first big trek – South Lykken Trail. It is a “moderate” hike and my pulse did get up to 120 bpm a few times, so it was a sufficient work out. I liked commandeering the rocks and monitoring my progress going up the hill.

What I did not anticipate, however, was the beauty at the top.

Suddenly, I was overlooking all of Palm Springs and I felt such a sense of awe – I mean how could a place be as beautiful as this?

I hiked further and came across a herd of big horn sheep.

Talk about a jaw dropper.

I wasn’t sure how to respond to their presence. I didn’t know if they would try to butt me or bite me or kick me down the side of their mountain.

So, I stood there in awe and quiet. Suddenly this feeling of gratitude and beauty overwhelmed me. How does something so incredibly striking as a bighorn grace this crazy planet?

And yet, there they stood, eyeballing me, as I looked at them with tears in my eyes.

I slowly walked away, understanding that I had been in the presence of greatness, at least for a few minutes.

I walked back down the hill, thankful that I had been granted this gift.

From that point on, during the cooler months I have made it a point to take a hike at least once a week. I have expanded my treks – Araby, Museum, Indian Canyon, North Lykken, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, you get the picture.

Looking back two years, it was weird the first year of the pandemic. We were all still under heavy mask-mandates, not knowing exactly how COVID was spread. While hiking, the majority of people I encountered were always fully masked and respectful. We gave each other wide berths as we traversed the trails.

While I was huffing and puffing under the thickness of masks, I would say to myself: “Imagine how easy this will be when masks go away?”

Ha!

Well, it’s been a few years and I find around October that I once again get that itch to hit the trails. Each time, I find new paths and new adventures.

I like to play games with myself while on these treks.

My favorite hiking playlist is John Williams, who just so happened to have penned the themes for “The Poseidon Adventure,” “Earthquake” and “The Towering Inferno.”

I am a BIG fan of seventies disaster flicks, so I often fantasize that I am the last living person on the planet, searching for signs of life amidst the rubble while being lullabied by these overwrought scores.

It’s a lot of fun.

I find that hiking is an incredible way to practice mindfulness. When you are confronted by uneven paths, prickly bushes and side-slanted rocks, there is absolutely no way you can do anything else but to be in the moment. To be present.

I find that the hour or two I am on a trail is like taking a mini-vacation from myself. While on the hill, all I can think about is the path ahead of me and what it will take to get up the next part without breaking my leg. Then, before I know it, I’ve made it to the top and back, a bit tired perhaps but strangely at peace.

Nothing can beat that feeling.

So, if you find yourself in search of something new, I only have one thing to say… “Take a hike!’

And, with that, I end this as “Poolside From PS.”

Published by Manny P

Having written professionally for 35 years, I am working on fulfilling a life-long dream of publishing whatever I want -- novels, blogs, you name it.

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