The experience of hiking the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks was a tremendous and life-changing challenge that will be treasured always. It inspired me to rise to the occasion of meeting that challenge for myself, and to dig deep for what was required to get out there, to put one foot in front of the other to get to the top of each mountain, as well as back down. There are beautiful things in this of course, and it was only through this process of completing them that I was able to gradually observe this challenge as something else too, something similar to a chase, being destination focused, peak driven, having an aim to get somewhere other than where I was, presently. Seeking more peaks to check off the list, was this a distraction from being truly present while hiking?
I observed this in others too on trails and summits. I listened to fellow aspiring 46ers who traveled long distances to the park, all the way out into the pristine forest. They left the busy cities and brought their competitions from home with them, measuring, comparing, taking note of how many they “got” and how someone else in the group had probably gotten more that day. The contest followed them into the wilderness and something about that left me feeling that despite all their time spent hiking in the park, perhaps the nature experience and its offerings and benefits was overlooked. This contrast of human drive against the serene and harmonious nature landscape warranted the question, “how can this be done more mindfully?” It is what lit the flame for Yoga Adirondacks, and the flame to practice mindfulness in the outdoors continued to be fanned.
The lure of all hard to reach goals will continue to excite us, and we should go after them. But . . . we can multi-task. We can set additional goals and create alternate checklists. Let's keep getting out there and become even more open to what nature has to teach and what we might give back to her. Let's question direction and walk with purpose. Let's wander herd paths to see where they take us. Let's share these routes with companions joined in appreciation for nature as the setting for practice. Practice on, hike, connect, be.