Do you ever have those days where you are trucking along quite well, and then all of a sudden – WHAM – your brain does a flip flop and you suddenly feel depressed, overwhelmed, sad, and a little beaten? I do. I don’t know if they are due to bi-polar issues, my body giving me feedback that I’ve wandered off my path, or a mix of the two. I’m betting on a mix, and the doctors haven’t figured it out in the last 20 years, so it isn’t a conundrum I’m likely to address concretely any time soon. Luckily at this stage the treatment is pretty much the same regardless of the cause. Assuming all of my basic needs are being met (did I remember to eat?), the answer is almost always – Go for a walk.
I’m not a person who does well when stuck inside for long periods of time, but I am a person who tends towards mild agoraphobia if I haven’t been out for a while. One of the many nuances I’ve come to love about my life, so especially in the Spring I will at some point desperately need to hit the trails… but also have an internal safety warden that will come up with a THOUSAND reasons not to pursue the highly risky enterprise of going outside. The horror! Luckily, as I have gone along my path I know this about myself, and I know the answer. Just do it. The only solution to both problems is to get outside, and bathe in some nature.
So today was that day. Last night my brain took a flop, and a good night of sleep didn’t reset it, so it was definitely time to hit the trails. I got a great book for Christmas called 60 hikes within 60 miles of Madison I’m trying to go through, so I picked a trail I had never hiked, and off I went!
It was a beautiful day for a hike. Still a little chilly on the shaded side of elevation, and when the wind blew, but nothing a good hat and some hiking couldn’t address. The Montrose Section of the Ice Age trail was a great mix of mild elevation changes, woods, fields, and even a lookout that was my reward for hitting the half way mark. There were a few people out, but not enough to feel crowded, or keep the birds from singing and swooping. The trees were even chatty, despite not yet having their new clothes on. This will be a completely different hike later this Spring or this summer and I’m looking forward to going back.
Logistically the trail as descibed is a 4.6-4.8 mile out and back, there is easy access, and a parking lot at the trail head. No facilities though, so plan ahead on that! If you want a longer trip, or have 2 cars so you can shuttle back instead of walking, you can connect up with the Brooklyn segment of the Ice Age trail quite easily.
I’m happy to say that by the time I had been on the trail for 30 minutes my brain had relaxed, I had reconnected with one of the things that most reliably will make my heart happy (nature), and I was far more attentive to the smell of the loam, the feel of the earth, the sounds of trees and birds, and the warmth of the sun warming me inside and out than any negative thoughts I might be having. By the time I got back to my car I was mellow, focused, and ready to pick up my life again. Well, ok, to be completely honest I was ready to pick up some food and my camping gear and head further out… but rejoining my prior trajectory was a welcome 2nd option. 🙂
Have you hugged a tree today, or stood barefoot on a patch of earth? It may sounds crazy, but you might be amazed the difference it can make!