On day 133 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored hiking as a way to support the systemic, emotive, and environmental dimensions of my health.
Yesterday, I coaxed myself out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to get an early start on the day so I could take a 3-hour lunch break and hike up to Poo Poo Point.
Yes, you’re reading that correctly. In the late 1800’s, loggers used “steam donkeys” to pull logs from the forest. And the machines they used made a noise that sounded like poooooo…poooooo…
Poo Poo Point is located on the bare shoulder of West-facing Tiger Mountain, and it overlooks the town of Issaquah and Lake Sammamish. The mountain itself, one of the three that make up the “Issaquah Alps,” has seven peaks in total. Poo Poo Point is one of the world’s most popular launch sites for paragliders. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see 20 or so gliders in the sky on any given sunny afternoon in the summer months.
The trail head (well, the back entrance anyway) is within walking distance of my front door. Pretty convenient, huh? The seven-mile hike takes me about three hours round-trip.
The extended self-care walk allowed me to sneak in some physical activity, but it also gave me a chance to decompress and clear my head. A mid-day break can do a lot for creativity and productivity, and long walks tend to invite an abundance of new ideas. Yesterday, I filled up 22 pages of my journal as I walked!
On the way up, I admired the spring growth (even the weeds). I listened to the chirping, buzzing and chattering of busied wildlife – all of which was louder than the crunching of gravel beneath my feet. A nearby chipmunk began spewing high-pitched profanity at me. Why are they always so pissed off?
Then, I noticed the berries! Their emergence marks the season’s return of bear activity. Earlier this week, our garbage was overturned and we suspect it was a furry friend’s handiwork. When I finally reached the summit, I overheard a local say that he saw a bear in his yard earlier that morning. Time to put away the bird feeders for a while, I guess.
Soon I began to feel sweaty. I could hear myself breathing heavier, my heart was beating faster, and the sun felt hot against my back. I wasn’t having fun anymore.
I can’t tell you how many times I thought about turning back. After all, three hours is a significant time commitment, especially when you have a lengthy to-do list awaiting your return. Here I was again…talking myself out of fitness. Could I have turned back? Sure. Would I have forgiven myself for it? Yeah, I would have. But did I know that I was fully capable of pushing onward despite all the complaining? Absolutely. Once again, I had to bring myself back to what I want to enjoy later so I could endure what I wasn’t enjoying now.
It’s tough, isn’t it? Keeping our focus on longer-term rewards can be difficult when our efforts make us uncomfortable and grumpy. Fortunately, the more often we endure and push through, the more we get to experience the payoffs.