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Topic: Any 'Mindful' Hikers Here...?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 19 2013, 11:03 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Any 'mindful' hikers here?

Happy Trails,

RS


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 19 2013, 11:04 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

OK, I'll bite:  Mindful of what?

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 19 2013, 11:14 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The first two paragraphs sum it up rather well.

http://mindfulhiking.com/

Happy Trails,

RS


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 19 2013, 11:25 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Then based on this, yes, I am a mindful hiker.  

I try to teach my children the same. Don't worry about how much further until we stop, rather focus on the things (sights, smells, sounds, feelings) around you at the present time...oh yeah, and drink water.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 19 2013, 11:28 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My answer would be no.  If I look up and see an eagle, I may slow down my pace and watch it for a minute.  I often think about other things.  The steps I take are somewhat automatic, I don't spend a lot of time thinking about them.

I am aware of my surroundings.....not necessarily of my place in them.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 19 2013, 11:49 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What I call the Drone Zone or "getting the beady-eyed lizard gaze" is what he calls Mindful Walking.

Reaching the lizard-eyed state is not easy for me but happens pretty often on my backpacking trips.  All you need to do is carry a 75 lb pack up a 3,000 foot mountain on a miserable trail.  The more rugged the better.  Or posthole in 2 feet of snow with 80 lbs on your back up a series of steep pitches.

Or belly crawl under 2 miles of snowdowns blocking a trail while wearing a 60 lb pack.  "Snowdowns" being all the brush leaning over and onto a trail.

You reach a point in these exercises whereby you become a sort of robot and pretty much impervious to pain.  You just keep trucking along.  I think the Green Berets call it the Drone Zone, hence my use of the term.

The "lizard eye" denotes a reptilian reaction to everything around you---there is no past, there is no future; there's only the rocks and roots and the weight on your back and the ongoing movement forwards.  It's a great place to be but it's hard to reach.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 19 2013, 12:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm probably more of a mindful rester. On some of my rest stops, I get caught up in whatever is going on around me and forget that I was hiking. The intended 5-minute stop can turn into 30. Once you've sat down long enough, the birds and squirrels get over your interruption of their day and start moving again. I watch the squirrels and listen to birds and look at that weird tree branch over there and go investigate a pile of rocks or whatever. At some point, I'll snap out of it and think "oh yeah, I have six more miles to walk." After that, I'll either get up and move on or realize 10 minutes later that I have six more miles to walk.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 19 2013, 6:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Put it this way: when I'm out hiking, I'm not in the habit of defining my activities or thoughts by someone else's term. I enjoy spontaneity.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 19 2013, 9:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yep, very mindful hiker.  Full immersion.  Much to the amusement, or annoyance, of hiking partners.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 19 2013, 9:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Some of the time, I am able to be "mindful". It depends on the terrain. About fifty percent of it, I have to focus on my steps and surroundings so as not to get injured but there are stretches here and there that are blissful (meadows, and open ridges, etc.). It really just depends on where I am. I actually enjoy having to focus on the next rock to hop to vs. plod along. For me, a trail is the worst place to find myself.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 19 2013, 10:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have recently started practicing mindfulness and learning about it to enhance my counseling skills. (I work at a college counseling center). I have taken some training and have done a lot of reading.

I am looking forward to putting it in to practice the next time I am in the woods.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 19 2013, 10:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey VAN, it's not something you "practice".  It's something you surrender to.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 20 2013, 8:51 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TDale @ Jul. 19 2013, 10:28 pm)
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Hey VAN, it's not something you "practice".  It's something you surrender to.

I agree to that! I guess I am used to the terminology used in psychotherapy :)

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 20 2013, 8:53 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One of the suggestions is to "walk a little slower than normal and time each breath to a set number of steps. Attentiveness to your breathing is the purest facilitator of presentness and mindfulness. The goal is to feel happy, peaceful, and joyful while walking."

For me, if I concentrated on and tried to control an autonomic body function like breathing, I coul be  neither happy, nor peaceful, nor joyful.  My peace and joy tends to come from focussing outward rather than  inward.  HYOH.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 20 2013, 10:37 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(KenV @ Jul. 20 2013, 7:53 am)
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One of the suggestions is to "walk a little slower than normal and time each breath to a set number of steps. Attentiveness to your breathing is the purest facilitator of presentness and mindfulness. The goal is to feel happy, peaceful, and joyful while walking."

For me, if I concentrated on and tried to control an autonomic body function like breathing, I coul be  neither happy, nor peaceful, nor joyful.  My peace and joy tends to come from focussing outward rather than  inward.  HYOH.

I'm no expert, but I think you misunderstand: the exercise is not to control the breath, but to observe it, to focus on it.

You can focus on chewing each bite of food, washing each dish and utensil if you're washing dishes, or count your steps while running (to 10, then start over) - nothing special about an "autonomic function", I suppose, except it's certainly readily available as a point of focus for almost all humans.

The suggestion for rhythmically synchronizing breath with steps is simply a facilitator for focusing - and the focusing is merely a way of avoiding the "mental wandering" that keeps you from "being in the moment".

Like Tipi Walter, I suppose "flagellation" might work as well, but you can learn to simply be mindful in many ways, but focusing on one thing is a way as well.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 20 2013, 11:34 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Tigger @ Jul. 19 2013, 9:43 pm)
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Some of the time, I am able to be "mindful". It depends on the terrain. About fifty percent of it, I have to focus on my steps and surroundings so as not to get injured but there are stretches here and there that are blissful (meadows, and open ridges, etc.). It really just depends on where I am. I actually enjoy having to focus on the next rock to hop to vs. plod along. For me, a trail is the worst place to find myself.

Sounds like we have similar hiking styles and outlooks.

There are very few backpacking trips I go on where I stay on a trail the entire time. Sometimes I just get explore off trail for a few hours without a pack from a base camp, and other times hiking off-trail is part of my backpacking route. Either way I enjoy having to carefully plan each step and determine the most energy efficient way to maneuver past various obstacles.

It's always amazing to me how much easier hiking on a "difficult" trail seems after being off-trail for a few miles.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 20 2013, 12:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Gabby @ Jul. 20 2013, 10:37 am)
QUOTE

(KenV @ Jul. 20 2013, 7:53 am)
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One of the suggestions is to "walk a little slower than normal and time each breath to a set number of steps. Attentiveness to your breathing is the purest facilitator of presentness and mindfulness. The goal is to feel happy, peaceful, and joyful while walking."

For me, if I concentrated on and tried to control an autonomic body function like breathing, I could be  neither happy, nor peaceful, nor joyful.  My peace and joy tends to come from focussing outward rather than  inward.  HYOH.

I'm no expert, but I think you misunderstand: the exercise is not to control the breath, but to observe it, to focus on it.

Maybe I did misunderstand.  But to me the phrase: "time each breath to a set number of steps" implies controlling my breathing rate to match my stepping rate.  I could never be peaceful or joyful doing that.

QUOTE
The suggestion for rhythmically synchronizing breath with steps is simply a facilitator for focusing - and the focusing is merely a way of avoiding the "mental wandering" that keeps you from "being in the moment".
For me, the effort to achieve such a synchronization would not be either joyful or peaceful and if I achieved it, I don't think the accomplishment would be joyful or peaceful.  When I hike I am aware of my heart rate, but I make no attempt to control it.  If it spikes I may slow down to let my heart catch up, but beyond that I just don't control my heart rate.  For me, the same is true of my breathing rate.  And yes, its far easier to control my breathing than my heart, but for me, controlling or attempting to control either is just not peaceful or joyful.

As for "being in the moment", when I focus "on the moment", I don't enjoy focussing on my autonomic body functions during the moment.  Instead, I much more enjoy focussing on my body's interaction with the environment during the moment.

As for "mental wandering," that's one of the reasons I hike.  I really enjoy letting my mind wander when I'mhiking.  I also find peace in seeing, feeling, smelling, and hearing how I fit into the peace of the environment I'm in.  It's a very sensory experience for me.  Concentrating and focussing to the point that all those sensory inputs are mentally blocked and all I'm aware of is my breathing and walking pace would be contradictory with why I hike.

QUOTE
Like Tipi Walter, I suppose "flagellation" might work as well, but you can learn to simply be mindful in many ways, but focusing on one thing is a way as well.
In like manner, I would find ZERO peace or joy is self flagellation.  I understand "focussing on one thing".  I just don't find peace or joy when that "one thing" is my breathing with the intent to synchronize my breathing with my walking.

I just take a different approach to find happines, peace, and joy.   HYOH.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 20 2013, 12:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't know about focusing on the "here and now" with controlled breathing. It's a long story I've heard many times before. When I hike, I let my mind wander. Occasionally I must concentrate in precarious situations.  But I'm not interested in corralling my thoughts into some conscious effort to suppress their natural direction. I mostly let that vast reservoir of unconsciousness inside me determine where thoughts will wander.

But timing breathing to footsteps is something I've done on occasion for decades. Generally, it is two steps to inhale and two to exhale. While a person's autonomic nervous system will keep him breathing if he doesn't think of it, breathing is also subject to conscious thought. It is not entirely autonomic.

And I've found that on steep slopes, intentionally breathing can make the climb easier and less tedious. And frankly, steep slopes is a big part of what takes me to the backcountry every week.

But as far as "here and now" is concerned, I'm interested in climbing the mountain — for whatever inspiration I get from that. I fully intend to be "mindful" in however way I wish.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 20 2013, 1:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Flagellation?  I call it, simply, backpacking.  Sometimes the act becomes arduous and difficult, and the mind best follow along for the ride.   It usually does but then if it didn't I'd end up in a heap on the trail giving up and unwilling to continue.  

The mind pushes the body which in turn drones out the mind and it's all for the best.  Most of my backpacking time, when I'm not in drone zone, is filled with a technique called Japa yoga which is done in rhythm with the steps.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 21 2013, 11:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Coming from a very religious background myself, I've developed a Golden Rule and a Great Commandment for backpacking.

Golden Rule of Backpacking - Thou shalt enjoy every minute.

Great Commandment of Backpacking - Thou shalt not hurt thyself.

My mind is very engaged when I'm hiking. This is strongest when I'm alone. I've become my favorite backpacking partner. You guys know what I mean - most people don't.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 22 2013, 1:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm mindful of just about everything on and off the trail with Grizzlies and Brigham Young's Bigamy Bikini Team at the top of the list.

Sometimes I'm into a zone of travelling as quickly as I can which is slow for some of you folks. Most of the time I stop every few minutes, level my breathing, and move on without de-packing. When I take the pack off I generally like to break for a while.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 22 2013, 1:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

From the link:
"Carrying thoughts of the future or the past can detract from your enjoyment of a hike in the present.

On your next hike, be it alone or with friends, make the effort to remain in the present and enjoy the beautiful moment happening around you."


Which sounds similar to yoga and, for me, it does take practice not to let my mind wander.   So, no, I'm not really a 'mindful' hiker.  I daydream way too much.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 22 2013, 2:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TigerFan @ Jul. 22 2013, 11:20 am)
QUOTE
From the link:
"Carrying thoughts of the future or the past can detract from your enjoyment of a hike in the present.

On your next hike, be it alone or with friends, make the effort to remain in the present and enjoy the beautiful moment happening around you."


Which sounds similar to yoga and, for me, it does take practice not to let my mind wander.   So, no, I'm not really a 'mindful' hiker.  I daydream way too much.

TF related the key point.  It's not about "forced breathing" or any such thing, it's really just about experiencing the "here and now" right now, rather than always having one's mind occupied with other things and missing out on what's happening in the moment.  It's notsomuch directly related to hiking as much as just a general mindset, although I think it's great to apply it when hiking as well.  Yoga and meditation have long been centered around such concepts.

And yes, it does take practice, or at least doing it until you're able to stop trying to do it.  Which isn't easy at first.  It's a change in mindset which takes some nurturing (much like exercise being hard at first until the body is "in shape" enough to enjoy it more effortlessly).


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 22 2013, 7:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This almost sounds like Walking Meditation (there's a book out there).  Sometimes, I'm a mindful walker, and sometimes that ol' "monkey mind" (mind chatter in meditation terms) gets the best of me.  But, I think, I'm mostly a mindful walker, looking and noticing much that is around me on hikes......  Wildflowers, trees, mountains, sounds, animal signs.  Then, sometimes, I'm blabbing away with my hiking buddies, and enjoying that.  I think it's the mindfulness that we have when "out there", that instills a rejuvenation of spirit to carry us when we are back in town.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 23 2013, 9:10 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(GoBlueHiker @ Jul. 22 2013, 2:15 pm)
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TF related the key point.  It's not about "forced breathing" or any such thing, it's really just about experiencing the "here and now" right now, rather than always having one's mind occupied with other things and missing out on what's happening in the moment.  

For me, the "here and now" is deeply related to what's around me in the "here and now".  Meditating while hiking to the point that I'm sychronizing my breathing and walking prevents me from obesrving and experiencing the beauty and serenity around me.  And that's why I go hiking.  HYOH.  

QUOTE
It's notsomuch directly related to hiking as much as just a general mindset, although I think it's great to apply it when hiking as well.  Yoga and meditation have long been centered around such concepts.
I do my share of meditating and have used the techniques of "The Relaxation Response" which I learned in the Navy decades ago.  I don't do it while hiking.  For me, that defeats the purpose of getting out and hiking.  I can meditate better at home, in the park, and a lot of other places.  And that includes stream side, lake side, or at the top of a peak while on an outing.  But while hiking?  For me, no.

For thos interested:  
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 23 2013, 12:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(KenV @ Jul. 23 2013, 7:10 am)
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(GoBlueHiker @ Jul. 22 2013, 2:15 pm)
QUOTE
TF related the key point.  It's not about "forced breathing" or any such thing, it's really just about experiencing the "here and now" right now, rather than always having one's mind occupied with other things and missing out on what's happening in the moment.  

For me, the "here and now" is deeply related to what's around me in the "here and now".  Meditating while hiking to the point that I'm sychronizing my breathing and walking prevents me from obesrving and experiencing the beauty and serenity around me.  And that's why I go hiking.  HYOH.  

Ken, you seem to miss the entire point.  Focusing on one's breath is simply a tool to get folks who are not used to mindfulness (whose minds are constantly on auto-pilot with other thoughts) to simply slow their mind down and pay attention to what's happening now.  If you're intentionally focusing on controlling your breath and your gait in a way that it's keeping you from seeing what's around you, even after doing it for years, you're missing the entire point from the start.

But as you say, HYOH.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 23 2013, 12:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've achieved it at it's purest.

Of course it took a full week of continuous physical stress (caloric insufficiencies, hypoxia, exhaustion, near-hypothermia) combined with regular exposure to airborn substances common to the communal gathering tent...

But I was THERE.  Fully and completely embedded in the Cosmic NOW.

Phuck yeah.  Mindful.  Right on.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 23 2013, 12:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't know if it's considered "mindful" or not, but I often get in a zone where I'm not really thinking at all. Not thinking about work, family, friends, the house, financials, etc... I'm just... there.

It's one of the reasons I enjoy rock climbing so much... absolute, pure singular focus.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 23 2013, 12:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(GoBlueHiker @ Jul. 23 2013, 10:05 am)
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(KenV @ Jul. 23 2013, 7:10 am)
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(GoBlueHiker @ Jul. 22 2013, 2:15 pm)
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TF related the key point.  It's not about "forced breathing" or any such thing, it's really just about experiencing the "here and now" right now, rather than always having one's mind occupied with other things and missing out on what's happening in the moment.  

For me, the "here and now" is deeply related to what's around me in the "here and now".  Meditating while hiking to the point that I'm sychronizing my breathing and walking prevents me from obesrving and experiencing the beauty and serenity around me.  And that's why I go hiking.  HYOH.  

Ken, you seem to miss the entire point.  Focusing on one's breath is simply a tool to get folks who are not used to mindfulness (whose minds are constantly on auto-pilot with other thoughts) to simply slow their mind down and pay attention to what's happening now.  If you're intentionally focusing on controlling your breath and your gait in a way that it's keeping you from seeing what's around you, even after doing it for years, you're missing the entire point from the start.

But as you say, HYOH.

IMHO the purpose of rhythmic breathing is to keep up a steady pace by ensuring you are getting enough oxygen.  The alternative is to walk quickly, then stop and catch your breath - not nearly as efficient.  It has nothing to do with relaxation and meditation, etc.

I find my mind wanders a lot when I'm hiking - especially solo.  Works for me.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 23 2013, 12:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(WalksWithBlackflies @ Jul. 23 2013, 10:49 am)
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I don't know if it's considered "mindful" or not, but I often get in a zone where I'm not really thinking at all. Not thinking about work, family, friends, the house, financials, etc... I'm just... there.

It's one of the reasons I enjoy rock climbing so much... absolute, pure singular focus.

I've definitely found that too, long before I ever considered applying the same concept at home.  An ambitious trip forces me to forego all the worries of home and focus on the here and now.  On extended trips, that leads to a lot of mental health improvements.  After a week or more, old memories surface, worries dissolve, a deeper happiness and contentment is found again, all of that.  My mind settles and "figures things out" without all the deliberate manipulation I seemed to give it at home.

It wasn't until many years later that I realized just how meditative an experience backpacking had always been for me, especially solo.  I imagine a lot of hikers and backpackers have similar experiences, regardless of whatever words are or aren't assigned to it.


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