There was only one other vehicle in the trailhead this morning, October 19.
It is my first hike after the first big snowfall of the year.
I am always amazed at how many hardy hikers there are out here and how eager they are to hike.
A few hardy-ones had already pioneered a route through the snow, even before the roads were cleared.
Tessa and I followed their footsteps.
There must have been half dozen hikers with their dogs, which made it easier for us.
The farther we hiked though, the fewer footprints. And the more difficult the going became.
We hiked a bit over a mile before turning back. And there were still maybe two or three hikers who’d broken trail beyond that point.
Tessa loves snow
She is familiar with this trail. She was in heaven.
She ran up the trail way ahead of me, turned and ran back past me, turned again and ran way ahead of me, repeating running up and down the trail, for much of our hike. I swear, I don’t know where she gets all the energy!
I am daily grateful for God having given me this body with its physical ability to keep on hiking.
I have friends who aren’t so lucky.
One is a good fifteen years younger than me, but overweight. He just had knee surgery.
But it was so serious an operation that he was in the hospital three weeks and still isn’t in so good shape that he’d dare hike.
Another lost his leg to cancer a couple of years ago, and while he’d been an avid hiker, he hasn’t been able to adjust to his prosthetic well enough to do any decent amount of hiking since.
My nephew, over twenty years my junior, is suffering from Parkinsons’ but still gets along on the trail, though nowhere near as well as me.
And still others just don’t seem to have the motivation to be out on a trail, though some have other active interests such as the spa that would bore me silly.
I have many other friends and acquaintances who are just as healthy, love the outdoors and are in even better shape than me.
We have an informal, non-organized, luncheon group we call The Geezers. Most of us are either still hiking into our later years while some are still avid skiers, one of whom is ninety-two. Even the Episcopal priest at our local church is one of us, being a retired Marine officer before he became a priest. Father Mike leads a hike early every Wednesday morning for all who care to join him, though most are Geezers.
Why can we keep on hiking into our late eighties and nineties?
The lesson for most of us is to keep on keeping on as long as we can. And to do whatever we can to sustain decent enough health to do so.
Frankly, other than being fortunate to avert any serious accident or illness, I believe that two things keep us going.
The most important is our spiritual life.
The other is consistently hiking, as often as possible.
Hiking Was a Choice
At one time, early in life, I had a sailboat. I frequently sailed on Long Island Sound.
But in time, I noticed I was spending three days fixing and cleaning the boat to each day of sailing. That didn’t make sense.
Furthermore, I wasn’t hiking.
It struck me that if I got rid of the sailboat I could spend those three days hiking instead of fixing and cleaning my sailboat.
I also could offer to crew on anyone’s boat who needed an extra hand.
Thus, I got the best of both worlds.
I got some great cruises – Nassau, Bahamas to Miami; New York City to Block Island; Annapolis, Maryland to Newport, RI; Greenwich, Ct. to Bermuda; Bermuda to Antigua, VI and so on.
I was always a welcome crew hand mainly because I loved the midnight-to-four AM watch on the helm. And few others did.
This routine allowed me to hike when not on a sailboat. And to rock climb.
I was climbing the cliffs in spring and fall. And on the trails summer and winter.
What better life could I ask for?
I truly believe it’s been the main reason I’m still in as decent physical and mental condition for the trails.
Of course, I know there are other factors. Diet for one. Maintaining a healthy body weight, for another.
But, my best friend, Doctor Lou, said it was because I made the best choice of my life. I picked the right parents.
OK, so there is very little one can do to keep a good quality of life into their late eighties and early nineties.
So heck, why not go for it?
Do the best you can with what you’ve been given to take this precious journey?
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