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What Is Hiking? Hiking Is Connecting with Nature

March 18, 2019

By Cheryl Hill, Board Member, Trailkeepers of Oregon

After a week of sitting inside at my desk job I need time out on the trail. I hike for fresh air, hearing birds sing, smelling the forest, viewing sweeping vistas and colorful wildflowers.

Hiking for me is unplugging and getting away from computer screens and phone screens. No email, no social media, no text messages. It is just me, my hiking companion, and nature.

Hiking induces meditation. You put one foot in front of the other for several hours and the only decision to make is how long to stop and soak in views or wildflowers or spray from a waterfall.

On a brutally hot day in June 2015 my husband and I hiked the Blair Lake Trail to Mule Mountain near Oakridge, Oregon. It felt way too hot to be hiking, but a reward awaited us along the trail: a sprawling meadow of blooming beargrass. Neither of us had ever seen so many beargrass in bloom in one place before and it was such a jaw-dropping sight that we couldn’t help but stop every few steps to take in the wonder of it all.

Large fuzzy white flowers bloom in a hillside meadow.

Beargrass blooming along the Blair Lake Trail.

In May 2018 my sister and I hiked Windbreak Dike at Summer Lake Wildlife Area near Paisley, Oregon. Although we were just following a straight road on a dike, we were treated to the sights and sounds of thousands of birds. The air was filled with the symphony of bird song, everything from marsh wrens to shrikes to killdeer. With no one else around, just my sister and me and the birds, it was the best nature soundtrack anyone could ask for.

Birds standing in a marsh with a ridge in the background.

American avocets at Summer Lake Wildlife Area.

Cheryl Hill: cheryl.hill@trailkeepersoforegon.org

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