When Your Hike Doesn't Go As Planned, Slow Down and Immerse Yourself in Nature

We've all been there, a hike or other weekend expedition not going as planned. Despite copious preparation and anticipation, the weather, the trail, the gear, doesn't cooperate and you're stuck there on the side of the mountain wondering what the heck were you thinking trying this route today. Such was my Sunday. I won't go [...]

We've all been there, a hike or other weekend expedition not going as planned. Despite copious preparation and anticipation, the weather, the trail, the gear, doesn't cooperate and you're stuck there on the side of the mountain wondering what the heck were you thinking trying this route today. Such was my Sunday.

I won't go into the details for the sake of those people involved and to preserve some sense of privacy in our ever-less-private always-connected world. But suffice it to say that at about 1pm on a gorgeously warm, sunny and breezy day, perhaps a mile into a 6-mile return hike up a Catskills mountain, after a 90 minute drive from downtown Manhattan, I found myself staring out over a rocky drop-off at the Hudson River wondering how an outing which would've any other day been a light jaunt for those concerned turned into a full scale blow out all precipitated by overwork, overstress and over-tiredness (yes, the very things a nice hike generally alieves) and manifesting in total emotional meltdown.

In that moment though (a bit before the photo above was taken) I remembered something I had read earlier in the week about slowing down and immersing yourself in nature.

From Yoga Plus (you should really check out their tips for mindfulness in nature, it's good stuff...) :

You can immerse yourself in nature slowly, by walking the same path through the woods once a week for a year, watching the seasons unfold, taking every step in with all of your senses. Or you can embrace a single moment and let it wash over you like a wave, clearing away your own thoughts, concepts, and desires, and leaving you present and connected. Having a calm, focused, and receptive mind is crucial for this kind of awakening. Don't get so caught up in chasing after these moments that you miss them. Just sit and breathe or walk gently and let yourself be drawn to something-and then let yourself experience it fully, on its own terms.

Looking around I realized that even though the decision was made to turn around, defeated on a pretty easy route, the moment held exquisite light filtering though the trees, playing off tufts of grass and the occasional low bush. The view beyond of the brown river, a wake of a boat towing a water skier a couple hundred vertical feet below, was perfect.

Even though we were little beyond what amounted to the approach of the actual hike, and I felt like hanging my head as we passed, now going in the opposite direction, a couple of groups we had earlier overtaken on the ascent, it was alright. I was outside, on the side of the mountain.