By Suzanne “Cricket” Binelli
I have hiked on an off through the years, usually because I just wanted to be outside, near trees, find critters, clear my head…pretty universal reasons to be on a trail. 2020 I realized I was not getting outside as much as I needed. I was walking the dogs but that was more for them than me. I joined a challenge to walk as many steps as I could in September of that year, and literally never stopped walking. I hiked the Appalachian Trail in my state (Connecticut), I started hiking all the blue blazed trails, I joined more challenges. I received patches, certificates, kudos, likes, and at least three t-shirts. I was addicted to reaching more goals. I was still out there loving the views, the water crossings, the snow, even the ice, but I felt myself rushing sometimes, trying to get the miles to reach the next goal.
Now goals are great…we should all have them, but I would sit and plan my hikes and found sometimes I was not having fun doing so. There were trails I wanted to revisit, but it wouldn’t count towards unique miles. What was I doing? I was losing a piece of that time set aside for me, for my health, for my heart, for my head. I needed that time away from a stressful job that sometimes is 12 hours a day 6 days a week. I had one day I was putting aside for me and now even that day was just more stress. I realized there was no time frame for so many of the goals I had set, I was just pushing myself to reach them. Perhaps, the over achiever in me set me on that path. I was on some beautiful trail looking at some beautiful trees when I just stopped and realized this is why I am out here…these trees, that sky, that animal that made a noise and I have no idea where it went or what it was, that bird song (hey I even know what bird that is!) and all those gorgeous rocks!!!! I decided I wasn’t going to rush or worry about the miles or the patches or the shirts. It is way too easy to get caught up sometimes and the woods once again taught me to slow down and breathe and just enjoy being where I am.
“Some of the best advice you will ever hear will come from the forest.” Dacha Avelin.