Last Sunday, I decided to go for a hike. It was the third or fourth warm day that week, topping out around 40, so I ventured into the forest preserve near my home. I didn’t have a planned route or an objective in mind, I just wanted to get outside and walk.
For years, as a member of the Boy Scouts, I considered hiking to be my least favorite outdoor activity. I always said I’d rather canoe or build camp structures or complete compass work, but I didn’t want to go for a plain old hike. In my early teen years, I always wanted to be achieving a goal or serving a purpose, and whenever a “hike for hike’s sake” came along, I decided that it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable.
Looking back now, and even as an older Scout, I know that many of my favorite memories come from plain old hikes. Since you weren’t rushing to do anything else, that’s where you could stop for whatever you found on the trail that interested you, or how you found the best places to stare off the top of a cliff into the Mississippi valley. And when hiking alone, or at least in silence, it’s the best time to think.
And that’s what I did last Sunday, traversing the still half snow covered trails in Busse Woods, I had a thinking hike. I was able to clear my head and make plans for the next days, weeks, and months. I let my mind wander into the minutiae of nothing in particular in a way that I can’t, or at least won’t, during a weekday or another time when I’m trying to get things done.
After hiking for about an hour, head clearer than it’s been in weeks, I was glad I took the time. And the funny thing is, I feel like I really accomplished something.