OK, I’ve written quite a few times about my love of climbing and hiking, but there’s one confession I have to make: I’m not the most sure-footed of people on a trail. Sometimes I’ll blame my old, worn-out approach shoes. And sometimes I’ll admit that maybe, just maybe, I lose my focus and stop paying attention to where I’m placing my feet.
So today we had another after-work outing–off to a crag that will never be in anyone’s guidebook, because it’s just a little cliff line tucked away on someone’s private property (to which we had been given access.)
Our leader hadn’t been up to this crag for a couple of years, so we spent about a half hour bushwacking through rhododendrons and wandering around on deer trails until we found the cliff line. Given the rough terrain and steep incline, I realized I was going to have to pay very close attention to my feet–or I would be off of them and tumbling downhill in no time.
That gave me an opportunity to be very intentional in my hiking tonight. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it was a walking meditation, but when I could bring my attention to each step that I took, it allowed me to be just a little bit more present. And it was pretty telling that when I was attending to each step, I was as sure-footed as I’ve ever been… but when I caught myself thinking about attending to each step, I really wasn’t attending to my body at all.
And of course my mind drifted. And of course, I lost my footing now and then (so did everyone else, mind you!) But the exercise was worth it–and was worth repeating on the walk back downhill… in the dark.
Next time we go out on an after-work climb, maybe I’ll remember to attend to each step on the trail… and maybe I’ll remember to bring a headlamp too!