Jim and I have been on a business trip in Tucson Arizona for almost three weeks. I lived in Mesa Arizona for much of my teen years and though I did not enjoy the heat I always loved the cactus. January is a lovely time to experience Arizona. I have tried to eat right for several years but exercise was always a second thought. I enjoy hiking but even that I can be talked out of. However before our trip we joined a gym and I began feeling a difference in my body after one week. I did not want to lose what I had gained. Okay I was losing inches and did not want to gain them back is a better way to say it. Therefore, on our days off here we took a couple hikes.
I found sheer joy and pleasure during and after the hikes. They were not easy hikes. Both were strenuous and had a significant elevations gain. Both had rugged terrain and required coming down with excess pressure on the knees which was a concern for me because in my forties I was in physical therapy for many months for painful knees. We did not go on this trip prepared to do hikes, so we had no hiking poles, hats, Camelbacks or appropriate shoes. But we did it. We were fine. To my utter amazement my knees never hurt the next day. My gluts felt it which was a good feel to me. My body appears firmer and my emotional wellness benefited from it greatly. There were two things that were significantly good about these two hikes that did not include the physical prowess it took to climb.
Number one was the people. On the first hike was up Superstition Mountain which has now been made a state park with clear defined paths. There were people everywhere because it was MLK day and a holiday. But the people were so fun. They were polite, with varying degrees of experience. There were friends encouraging friends. There were people overloaded with gear, some with moderate gear and with no gear. We met Mark who had climbed four mountains that week. He took pictures of us. The people made it very enjoyable.
The second hike was make more enjoyable because the path lead through a sea of cactus of every variety. They were up close and personal. It was a very different beauty than the beauty of the Northwest, but a beauty just the same. Part way up we sat on an enormous rock and talked by a fresh spring. Then we climbed the steep part feeling much like the mountain sheep we were to look out for. We only made it half way up because we listened to our bodies. I have hiked before where a friend pushed me verbally to the top. Though the view was beautiful, the pain was not. The recovery was not. I listened to my body this time when it said, “It is time to return.” The rocks caused pounding on my knees as I descended, but Jim showed me a much better way to step down and three days later I have no pain.
Finding joy in the journey instead of having an eye on the destination is a much better way to hike. I cannot wait to go back home to the northwest and climb the Cascade mountain trails, perhaps never to the top but if I go slowly, one day I may look up and see nothing but sky because I will have slowly allowed my body to enjoy the journey all the way to the top and down again.
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