Recently my family and I started hiking in the local foothills, something I stopped doing about ten years ago for reasons I can’t remember and then it was something I couldn’t do after I hurt my back three and half years ago. Finally, after months of yoga, acupuncture and a chiropractor I am healthy again without surgery and have found my hill again.
This particular hill is a butt burner and makes me feel just like Cheryl Strayed in Wild (I’m a third of the way into her book and love it) except I’m close to home with my car waiting for me at the bottom. But my mind and my body react with the same fierceness as in “Wild” that helps me to push through the pain of being out of shape, past the internal dialogue that continually yells at me to stop, and quiets all that is not the hill.
It is all at once breathtaking and serene and an ass kicker as I walk on the loose rocky soil with tired muscles, sweat cooled by the afternoon breeze, my feet grounded to the earth. The trail rises a little over a mile and half basically uphill the entire way. I’m surrounded by tall overgrown grasses and wild flowers turning brown in the summer heat, hundreds of birds running through the bushes catching insects, rattlesnakes hiding not too far away and hundreds of lizards scurrying from my footfalls.
Since my husband and I go at our own pace, and our kids don’t always come along, I am alone for long stretches but when I pass others we say hello and smile. There is a camaraderie on the hill, an unspoken acceptance because we understand how lucky we are to be above the beautiful crazy city below if only for the hour or so it takes us to hike.
The hill pushes me to my limits, tests me, and asks me to remember who I am, what I want, and that I can attain my goals. It also creates a bond for our family. One that fortifies us and sustains us.
I haven’t made it to the top yet, like I used to do, which would allow me the choice to continue on a longer trail around the back side making the entire loop around five and half miles with views of the entire valley, downtown, and the ocean on a clear day.
But I will. I will get back to the top of the hill. Soon. Very soon.
The body is a wonderful thing. When my body is healthy my mind is healthy.
I can think. I can let go. I can create. I can heal.