Posted by: GeekHiker | May 24, 2007

Perspective Change

Something changed for me on last weekend’s backpack.  Never even saw it coming.

It’s taken a few days for me to comprehend it, to understand it, and to even attempt to put it into words.  Tonight, it finally dawned on me what it was.

I don’t yet know that it’s all that significant, mind you, but something in my perspective seems to have changed.

First though, the backpack itself.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve generally not been a big fan of large group hikes.  Too many people, too little nature, in my general opinion.

I’ve gone on some group hikes over the past few months, mostly as a way of expanding my limited social circle following the breakup so many, many moons ago.  It was a way of forcing myself outside of my shell.  A social shell that had been pretty much constructed within my last relationship, much to my chagrin.

Much to my own surprise, I enjoyed it.  Not as hikes, perhaps, but as enjoyable ways to spend time nonetheless.

What became clear over the weekend, while backpacking in Cooper Canyon, was that I found myself enjoying being with the group.  Meeting up at the trailhead.  Setting up camp.  Even a day hike down to Cooper Canyon falls, leading the group, which is certainly not something I’m accustomed to, because I was the only one who knew where the use trails down to the falls were.

Starting on Saturday, we worked our way down to the canyon, then back up to the campground.  After setting up our tents and having a quick lunch, we wandered down to the waterfall and spent a couple of hours lounging around.  A couple of brave souls even swam in the very cold water of the pool in front of the falls.

Arriving back to camp, there was dinner, which included some very good food brought in by stronger backs than mine.

Wood was gathered, the fire was lit, and the alcohol, in the form of a very good bottle of tequila, and of which I only drank a little, was brought out and passed around.

There was even singing: three of us started singing impromptu Dr. Demento songs at one point.  Heh.  Geek bliss.

Sunday involved hiking out of the canyon.  Unfortunately, two of our group never emerged from the canyon with us.  After several hours of nervous waiting, it turned out that they had taken the wrong trail, and after an additional 8 miles of hiking, had emerged in the Antelope Valley!

With the exception of that small drama, however, the weekend was, well, really quite wonderful.

Here’s the thing, though: hiking and camping have for many years been incredibly important to me.  No, check that, solo hiking and camping have always been important to me.

It was how I got past the semi-suicidal depression of my twenties.  I went hiking in this place, by myself.  And it balanced me.  Rejuvenated me.

The group hikes were just that, group hikes.  Separate.  Fine for socialization, but that was as far as it went.

But this weekend, it didn’t seem to matter whether I was alone or not, so long as I was outdoors.  It was okay that I was with a group of people, especially because I liked the people.  It was okay that I was on a trail that I’d been on before; in fact, it didn’t really matter what trail it was at all.  It was okay that the trail was popular with a lot of people (even, Heaven help me, the Boy Scouts).  It was okay when I hiked with the group, and it was okay when I hiked alone on the long, slow trudge uphill.

As long as I was out there, away from the city, everything else was fine.  Balanced.

It didn’t matter that I wasn’t hiking solo, I was out there.

Well, I suppose it didn’t hurt that the group I was with was very, very cool.  And they laughed at my dumb jokes.

I don’t think that I never quite expected the feeling I get from hiking and the group stuff to really intertwine.  Least of all after so many, many years of solo hikes.  Whether it’s merged into the same sensation, I don’t think I’ll know until my next solo outing.

Still.  How unexpected.  And fascinating.


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