Tow Heads, Same Coin
I’ve been thinking about this John Muir quote a lot lately, about how much I personally receive when I spend time in nature. Ideas. Astonishment. Clarity. Reset. Fortitude. Light.
And I’ve been starting to feel a little selfish about it all. Nature has now been giving, giving and giving some more as long as we’ve been taking. And we never seem to stop taking. Or taking it all for granted.
With Nature apparently not having received the memo that giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin; you can’t have one without the other and equal participation isn’t optional.
I can do more.
What if instead of spending all of my time in the woods sucking up all that light and goodness Nature so generously gives, I spend a portion of that time giving some of that light back? What if that’s part of the intention I set for each Intentional Hike I take? To share my own light, however brightly it shines, with Nature. To send Light back to the fountain that desperately needs humans to stop taking. To offer what I can to help Nature replenish and heal.
Because Nature seems to have a problem with the receiving part of the equation.
And humans with the taking.
Meanwhile, I’ve had lots of opportunities to give back over the last few months.
I started the 52 Hike Challenge on January 1. 52 hikes over the course of a year. Totally doable, but I’m restricting myself to hikes that I don’t include on my routine walks in the woods.
I worked in eastern NC the first three months of the year,and it was a stretch to label any outdoors time on flat, sandy soil as “hiking.” So, I’ll skip to the good parts.
The Good Parts
They started on April 10 in Kingman, Arizona on day 3 of a cross-country road trip. We made good use of the Campendium app while on the road, using it to find free and cheap and, sometimes, funkadelic sites (San Jon Municipal Park anyone?) from North Carolina to California and beyond.
Actually, the site in Kingman erred on the funkadelic side. Just a trail head, really, with a collection of RVs, some possibly there for the long haul, parked along the edge of a small canyon.
The bonus points came from the fact that it was a trail head and we had just enough time after a day of hard driving to hike the 1.25 miles around the Monolith Gardens Loop marveling at what a difference three days makes.
Cacti! Ocotillo. Prickly Pear. Hedgehog. Oh my!
Exchanging the east coast spring greens and fuchsia red bud blossoms for ochers, oxides, ambers, deep violets and endless cerulean skies of the west.
Amorphous, pliant, rustling trees gave way to prickles and towers of unforgiving rock that sing and howl in the wind.
The reality of hiking, and camping, out west…BLM land is enjoyed by people and cattle alike.
Everywhere we went strange, spiky plants were hinting at subtle blooms, adding little crackles of color. So easy to miss. So surprising to witness.
We saw backpackers in Flagstaff. (And snow). And now I’ve added the Arizona Trail to my hiking wish list.
More enchanting, even, than New Mexico.
I can’t wait to go back.