Today’s hike was the longest out and back I’ve done since getting my shit in order to purposely do this journey, with conviction, and hold myself accountable. It was about a 4 mile hike (a little longer, but who doesn’t love whole numbers? Am I right, huh?) I used All Trails again to find this one, the app is pretty good, but on this computer, their web site is garbage (links don’t work once I’m logged in).
One of the first things that I started to feel was a tickle in the mack of my mind that I needed to get this done so I could get back home. I grabbed a walking stick from the side of the trail (sorry I left you at the culvert little buddy, I’ll miss you), tucked my head down a little bit, and just watched the rocks, dirt, and gravel go under one foot, then the other.
The earliest I remember feeling this “anxiety” to get back home was when I was married. It wasn’t a feeling of happiness that I needed to get back home, but an uneasy, “I hope the kids are okay, does she need anything, will there be enough time after I get home to get it all done”, feeling. Not a good feeling if anyone can relate. I still get this feeling sometimes, and today was no different. I have zero plans until this afternoon with my friend “Vinnie” to go have some food and a beer while we tell our long tails of the glory days (kidding, we usually talk about hockey, how we’re doing on the emotional front -skirt it, not get deep, we’re guys-, what’s going on with our houses, kids, and talk a little about what we’re doing these days in general. Guys don’t get deep like women do, we run on a much more superficial level. I wish we could get down and talk the deep stuff, but it’s just not something we do (maybe I’ll learn how, I don’t know, I would like to be able to do that some day).
After I worked myself out of the “gotta get back” anxiety, I slowed WAY down, put my camera on my chest, and started to observe my surroundings. I’ve really got a thing right now for trees that are bending, kinked up, broken, lots of texture, and leaves that have sunlight on their backs so I can pull it out in post processing. I decided that on the way up, I would take pictures like my batteries would never die, then on the way down, I would “FEEEEEEL” everything. I only took two or three pictures on the way down, and my excuse is that I saw the opportunity on my way up, but it would have looked better from the other angle. So I saved them for the return journey.
No shit, about 50 yards from 29th Street trail head (my turn around point), I stepped on small pebble in exactly the wrong spot, and my Morton’s Neuroma was up and at’m! FUCK! I sat down at the 29th Street Trail head, popped off my shoe, spread my toes out a bit, enjoyed the breeze, and listened to the mixture of bees, cars, birds, people on their bikes, some kids playing somewhere in the near by apartment building, and accidentally started to meditate a little bit. I let that come, relaxed into the sounds, and focused on anything that wasn’t the pain in my foot, or the “crunchy” feeling inside as odds and ends tried to barge into this moment. It was the sounds of everything, that I focused on, deeply listened, it was nice.
About that deal I made with myself to “FEEEEEL” everything on the way back, oh I felt it alright, felt it all the way up my calf. The best ever use for physical pain though, is it’s ability to wash over any emotional pain you worry about most of the time. I found a stride that hurt less, inhaled the smell of everyone on the trail smoking pot (not shit, I think every person I passed had a little sweetness to their step), and let myself enjoy just being there. I pulled myself back from thinking things that are guaranteed to pull me back to places I’m not interested in going anymore, and I zoned out and into the way the walking stick clunked every third step as I swung it along with me. Being in that moment was very nice, I wish I could have stayed longer.
I hope you enjoy the images, some of them at least. Included my bloopers. Damn it’s hard to do selfies from a little tripod and a 10 second timer.