Time for a much-needed break from reality. Take a hike, a statement once used to express irritation, annoyance and a desire for someone to go away, is now a refuge from society’s descent into madness.
Yes, what’s going on in society today is utter and complete madness. The absurdity is to the point where a steady stream of breaks are necessary. Getting away is required to maintain sanity and prevent downing the Kool-Aid.
Living on a sensible budget means there is no flight to a Vegas casino, week-long cruises to the Bahamas, or lavish trips to Martha’s Vineyard, but I’m OK with that. I embraced the idea of living on a budget many years ago.
There is good news. To escape the daily grind and refresh the soul, visiting parks and hiking is relatively free. A little gas money and sensible shoes. As luck would have it, Tennessee is blessed with an abundance of parks. We have 56 state parks. Plenty of hiking opportunities.
Hiking is good for the heart, it improves balance, helps build muscle, can increase bone density, helps with weight loss, eases stress and boosts mental wellbeing, allows time to unplug from technology, improves self-esteem, relieves insomnia and improve sleep, and improves memory and brain function.
Spending time in nature is therapeutic. It improves the quality of one’s life. Time spent in nature stimulates the part of your brain that reduces the mind’s tendency toward negative thought. Much needed in a world that’s soul-sucking and mind-numbing.
The senses awaken when you spend time in the great outdoors. While on the Virgin Falls trail, Doug and I stopped at a stream. A big, flat rock overhung it. I sat down, took shoes off and put feet into the water. It was cold and refreshing. Eyes closed. Birds chirping. Wind rustling through the trees. I could have stayed there forever, or at least until hunger drove me from the woods.
Hikers share a common goal: to enjoy the experience. We leave behind politicians, political parties, character attacks, labels and soapboxes. We just enjoy the great outdoors.
Along with hikes for leisure and sightseeing, Doug and I have begun taking what he calls power hikes. Rather than slowly meandering through the trail, we kick it into a brisk walk. Darting around low tree limbs and avoiding roots and rocks, it’s like an obstacle course.
Doug calls them power hikes. I call them endurance hikes, which I apparently do not have much of. We get to the end and he’s fine. I’m miserable. He’s ready to go, but I’m ready for a nap. Hikes are a good way to improve cardiovascular health. Power hikes are great way to improve cardiovascular health, if you survive.
We hit the trail every weekend. The more madness that surrounds me, the more I look forward to that escape.
Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs can be reached at 473-2191.