I recently had to take a strengths finder assessment at work. One of my top five strengths is “Maximizer,” which essentially means that I aim to be efficient. I figured I would put that strength to use in this post by combining two hikes into one post. (FYI – this is my way of putting a positive spin on being lazy and not having written a post in the past two weeks.)
Casey and I have also been very efficient in our hikes these past two weeks – choosing trails that are close to home to tackle after work because our weekends have been slammed. As first I felt a little bad about this choice – like we were cheating ourselves (and you guys!) for not exploring further and taking more time for exploration on the weekends. But life happens and gets really busy, and I’m incredibly proud that we’re still sticking with this 52 hikes in 52 weeks plan.
I’ve also come to appreciate these mid-week hikes as a time to take a mental break from the week. I feel like they’ve come at the exact right time each week, when the work days seem to get hectic, the traffic is heavy, the people are demanding, the hours are long. And then I meet Casey, and we take a walk, talking about whatever comes to mind and all of the noise from the week seems to slip away.
And that’s what I think is most significant about these past two hikes. At Oak Hill Trail, I was amazed by the quietness. It’s in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park off a gravel path that led to the parking lot, which was almost completely empty. It felt like Casey and I had the entire place to ourselves and it sounded like it to. There was no traffic noise, no other conversations, no hum from civilization. Just the pure sound of being outdoors in the woods.
At Brecksville Reservation, I was reminded of how much I value quality time with Casey – no matter if it goes right or wrong. This week especially, we both have been running around with a mountain of tasks and to-do lists. We decided to hike on Wednesday because it was the only day that neither of us had something to do. On the way to the park, I got stuck in horrible traffic. Casey had a rough day at work. We couldn’t find the trail we decided on earlier. We were both frustrated. So we said f**k it, and just started walking. About halfway through the hike, I started to feel it all slip away. I was able to simply focus on Casey and our walk, which mostly consisted of trying to keep moving as fast as we could to avoid getting eaten by bugs. As we arrived at the top of a pretty long and steep incline, I thought it was the perfect time to surprise Casey with a much-needed adult beverage (that I had picked up after my horrendous commute). We sat and drank and got bit by a ridiculous amount of mosquitos. Some hikes aren’t picture-perfect, but getting away for a bit – even if it’s to walk through mud and bug-infested lowlands – can help press the reset button.
I know that I’m not being very descriptive about either of the two parks we visited in the past two weeks, but sometimes it’s not about where you went. Sometimes it’s more about where you’re getting away from and who you’re getting away from it all with.