Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hiking Philosophies

Maybe I'm just making this all up, but I really think that there are two schools of thought when it comes to hiking. The first group trudges through the terrain with astounding displays of physical fitness. Somehow they are able to see every rock and navigate hanging branches without looking like a swarm of bees is attacking them. They move quickly like gazelles, able to take in their surroundings with eyes darting in every direction. Somehow they reach the destination whether it be mountain top or waterfall with energy to spare to play a round of ultimate frisbee or splash carelessly at the base of the falls.

This group is not me. I belong to the other hiking philosophy. I am all tortoise exhibiting no physical prowess, and instead I do my best to focus on not falling to my death. I like to break frequently for water and to admire large leaves or strange looking bugs. I listen for new sounds and wonder if I'm hearing monkeys or frogs in the trees. While walking, my head stays focused squarely on the ground for fear that I will trip, which I often do even if my gaze never leaves the earth. My energy comes and goes in spurts as does my breath, and when the destination is reached, I plop lazily on the nearest flat rock to admire the fruits of my labor. I have a snack and reach a meditative state as I watch birds with blue wings swoop overhead and a butterfly the size of my head flutter past. I like the alone time.

It's hard when these two types of hikers converge as they did today at Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras. The former want to go, explore, and play, while I want to think, reflect, and absorb. I feel as though I'm not going fast enough, and they feel like they are constantly waiting. And in an effort to keep up, I hit a slippery rock the wrong way and careen to the ground. Don't worry, I'm ok. I got right up and continued onward until I was comfortably sitting in the taxi taking pleasure in watching the pineapple fields on both sides of the road.