No I’m not homeless, but I feel most at home away from home..
For Cinco de Mayo, my Cousin, her friend, and I, hiked to the Manzana Schoolhouse! I’ve only backpacked to it once, and have been fortunate to fly over the area with my Cousin Trevor! The hike is only 18ish miles round trip, and we made it in about 4.5 hours, with only stopping to take photos! Before going on any backpacking trip, I like to do some research about the trail, and this one was rated as a 4 boot hike! I’m not really too sure why.. Is it because of the distance? The hike to the Schoolhouse was relatively easy over the 8 miles to get there. The hardest part might be the 32 creek crossings, but that’s just a tad bit annoying due to walking with SOGGY SOCKS! Once you get over the gradual incline to Potrero camp, the rest of the 7 mile hike follows the riverbed! This would definitely be a bear of a day hike though, and would suck because the sunsets are beautiful from this campsite! Check it out for yourself!
I was recently turned onto this great book called The Nature Fix (Thanks again 😜) I highly recommend it! It changed the way I hike, in a good way! Without directly knowing it I was already practicing Shinrin-yoku, or nature bathing! Whenever I would feel stressed, or the real world was becoming too real, I would just go for a hike and leave feeling 100x better! Well then I get introduced to this book, start reading it, and think “This is what I do!” But really I was only scratching the surface.. Before I get any further, I have to admit, I’m still reading the book and have only finished up till chapter 3. I think that’s important to note because just like backpacking, it’s about the hike AND the destination. I thought “okay, I’ve read the first 2 chapters, go out in nature, and UNLOCK MY BRAIN NATURE!” Right??? That’s how it works right?? But I’ve read the first 2 chapters!!! I couldn’t of been more wrong if I tried. I was already feeling the affects of being in nature before reading, but now that I knew I was supposed to be feeling something, the whole thing felt super forced! I found myself asking, what questions do I want to try and figure out, and I set the bar super high for coming up with new ideas. Then I would get frustrated as time passed and nothing would develop. (This is probably due to me not finishing the book yet, but only probably.) Once I separated myself from the group, found my pace, and focused on the music and walking, was when I felt it. This is only my first time trying this on purpose, so I understand that it’s not just a switch you can flip mentally and unlock the greatness. I’m sure the more I read and practice, I’ll have a better idea of the art.
For me, hiking isn’t about solving problems or coming up with new ideas. It’s about relaxing, finding balance, and slowing down your internal engine we’re forced to feel like we have to keep floored at 18,000RPM to survive. Backpacking is great because you’re literally carrying all you need to survive. Shelter, food, water, and the necessary accessories to make those work, and you can leave behind all the bull%^$& you carry around on the daily. Nature doesn’t care. Nature doesn’t care what kind of car you drive, or how many followers you have on social media. Your job or retirement plan? Nope, Nature could care less! All you have to do is enjoy the hike from Point A to Point B, and make sure you don’t die! Some people might find that terrifying, but I think it’s incredibly freeing! Once you see your first sunset and the how many stars are in the backcountry, you’ll be hooked!
Once I stopped trying to force it to happen, is when it would happen. Instead of feeling like I was Bradley Cooper in Limitless, solving math problems and curing cancer, I had the ability to not think. I’m one of those people who, when they close their eyes at night to try and go to sleep their minds start racing. I feel like I’m always thinking about something. Hiking puts me in this trance-like state, where I don’t feel my pack weight, body pain isn’t a thing, and my only problem with the distance is it isn’t long enough. I can be in this state for miles without any problem! Which is the whole point! It’s one of my favorite feelings, and I wish I could bring that feeling permanently home with me. Which poses the question, would we still be drawn to Nature if we could feel the same feelings at home?
One thought that did come to me while hiking and thinking about “nature bathing” is that just like with everything, no one is going to have the same exact experience that you will. Sure it might be close, but not exact. Maybe for me Nature is for relaxation, and Nature for you could be something completely different, and that’s okay! The world would be such a boring place if everything was “one size cures all” but thankfully this is ‘MERICA DAMNIT, AND WE NEED ALLLLLLLL THE CHOICES! What’s important is being out there, experiencing it, not trying to force things to happen, trust the process, blah blah blah now I’m just adding words to try and sound sophisticated, educated, and dedicated 😂. Like I mentioned before, this was my first time trying it on purpose, and I’m willing to bet I’ll have the book finished before the next one, so I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Thanks for reading! Enjoy the photos from the hike! Where should I go next?