What I Used To Do.

 Saturday at Waubonsie State Park, overlooking the Loess Hills in Iowa.

 I’ve been thinking a lot about the past 20 years, and how I’ve changed. And I’m not talking about changes like how much more assertive and outspoken I’ve become in my old age (case in point: while teaching Sunday School yesterday, I ranted for 30 seconds about commodified spirituality. I don’t think I would’ve done that 10 years ago).

No, the changes I’ve been thinking about are more about what I used to do. Specifically, what I used to do outdoors.

I spent summers at local swimming pools, even though I tended to burn more than tan. I hiked the mountains of Montana and biked trails in Utah and even camped. I still refuse to camp anywhere but Glacier, mostly because I can’t handle the humidity of the Great Plains. But there’s really no reason for me to hibernate year-round like I’ve done in recent years. I’ll admit–the main reason I stopped hiking was because I spent years being snobby about what hiking meant. Hiking was a mountain activity, and since I no longer live near mountains, I could no longer hike.

But Friday night I actually craved hiking. I wanted to just find a trail somewhere, put on some music, and get a little lost.

So Saturday I drove about an hour south to a Waubonsie State Park in Iowa, found a trailhead, and hiked for about two miles. The maps at the park weren’t the best, so I didn’t complete the trail I picked. Shaded and pocked with snake holes, this trail headed downhill at a pretty steep rate. The further into the trail I went, the less I wanted to climb up the hills on my way back. So I turned around before I hit the end, trudged up the hills I had climbed, and sat at the top for a few minutes, where I took the photo above.

It felt so good to be on a trail, doing something I loved but had neglected for several years. The plan for the rest of the summer is to hike more trails, even if it means waking up early to beat sweltering temperatures. Hopefully this summer will be a tad cooler than last summer.

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