Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On the Trail Again

   Jubilation! Legs and arms in motion! I’m back on the trail again, celebrating restored mobility after the limitations of a broken arm and fall-related joint complaints. 
   Last week, on two days of dazzling sunshine (an unexpected joy in the midst of a Pacific Northwest winter), I strapped on snowshoes and joined my husband for modest treks through snow-draped forests of the Cascade Range. We selected routes with gentle slopes and set short goals for each outing. The purpose, after all, was not distance but an assessment of physical stability. For me, the route led to an exciting destination—a restored sense of ease and comfort in my body and a revived zest for life.
   Honestly, I’m trying to be reasonable about this joyous freedom from pain. I want to carry it through a steady progression of training for the 137-mile distance hike I’ve signed up for in August. Still, it’s hard to stifle my delight in being back on my feet.

Balancing on Big Feet

   On this first outing of the winter, I shuffled cautiously through an introductory period of re-familiarization with snowshoes. After 15 or 20 minutes of acclimation on the packed snow trail, I settled into a comfortable pace, guided by the rhythmic cadence set by my cross-country ski poles. Two steps per pole plant. Breath and poles meshed in an easy pattern as I advanced deeper into the wintry stillness of the forest.
   Then, almost immediately as soon as I released concerns about balance, or the warmth of the gloves I’d selected, I found myself miles away from the sparkling beauty spread before me. My mind began reviewing the menu for dinner that evening with friends. Moments later, it was sorting out the wardrobe for an upcoming trip. You know how it goes! 

 Muttering in the Forest

   In the silence of this forest, the loudest intrusion on tranquility loomed in my own mind. “One-two, one-two,” I countered, choosing to stop the repetitious cycle of mental ruminations by mentally counting my steps. “One-two, one-two,” correcting my course on the trail. The focused count pulled me back on track to the destination I value most when I walk—a place of peace in myself. Even in a setting of quiet beauty, it’s amazing how difficult it can be to get my head in the same location as my feet. “One-two, one-two.” One moment at a time.
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