“It’s about the journey, not the destination” stands true for hiking, just like it does for life. Yesterday, I went hiking with a friend for the first time and at the end of it I felt like I had never felt before – but we’re jumping to the end too soon. Let’s start at the beginning of it all.
My husband had gone hiking at Indiana Dunes State Park with his friends just a couple of days before and when I heard about it, I instantly wanted to do it myself. My good friend was coming down to see me and she happens to love hiking. Kismet? So we set the plan in motion despite the love-filled concerns of my husband that it might be too much for me – I may not be able to follow the map, my feet would get tired and is it really even safe? I don’t blame him for his protective concerns, I am notorious for parking in the closest available spot and waiting 15 minutes to take a short bus ride rather than just walking the 10 minute route. I have, however, decided to become more active and despite my aforementioned flaws, I am a do-er. When I want to be. So I took this hike as a challenge.
Thanks to my friend, who has a lot more experience with hiking, we packed water bottles, some snacks and of course a selfie stick. We got there, stretched, and finally started the hike uphill on the first sand dune. Oh, so this is what my husband warned me about. The trail consisted of sand, which is a very interesting experience going uphill. Imagine walking on sand with your shoes. Now imagine walking on an elliptical made of sand, with an uphill setting and with loads of sand in your socks and shoes. Fun. I have to admit that going downhill was a blast with a mixture of running and sliding down the hills.
The best part of the hike was the peace and quiet in the midst of all the fall-colored trees. I took dozens of pictures of the red and yellow trees set against the still-green and already-bare trees. The leaves falling in front of our eyes, making a carpet for us to walk on and helping us when the sand wouldn’t give way easily. The windy, hilly trail ahead posed as a challenge full of reward calling our names. Each intersecting trail presented us with choices tempting us to take the path “less travelled”. Each mountain top with a spectacular view of the beach and lake from up, up and above feeling both grand and insignificant in the scheme of things. Wondering what it would like to be a tree, I realized that fall is always a time of contemplation and (subsequently) change for me. Last fall I took up painting which has now made a permanent home in my heart.
This journey, full of thought, laughter, admiration and clean air came to an end in roughly an hour as we completed the dune challenge by hiking to the top of all three of the dunes. At the end of it all, I may have gotten lost in the parking lot for a minute, gotten really tired and perhaps feared my safety from the possibility of falling in the deep valleys on either side of us (but I was graciously reminded: it’s just sand). However, I also felt a high like none other. I would love to do this again every chance I get. Whether it was enjoying the abundant supply of Oxygen, sweating profusely or basically meditating and being one with nature – or a combination of it all, I know I’ve got a new addiction. Thanks to my friend for this amazing, unforgettable time. Check out her new amazing travel blog for adventures like this one and many more.