I haven't posted anything here about hiking or walking for exercise in a while. That's probably because I'm getting more and more serious about hiking. The more of it I do, the harder it is for me to find words to describe how much joy I get from it. But it might be fair to say that I've begun to annoy and even alienate many of my loved ones with my obsessive preoccupation with the topic.
That worries me for a number of reasons. The obvious reason is that I don't want to alienate my loved ones. As much as I love my new hobby, I love my son and my girlfriend and my mom and my friends much more. I don't want to get to the point where they can't stand to be around me because I won't shut up about hiking. I may be close to that point now.
It's a constant source of planning, hoping, and daydreaming for me. I hike at Douthat whenever the weather is decent. For me, that means whenever it's above 20 degrees and not pouring rain. If it is pouring rain, I'll still put on a poncho and walk the hills and byways of my home town. I've also started hiking the Appalachian Trail some. Recently I hiked the AT near Roanoke, and you can see my pictures from McAffee Knob at this link, or take a look at my pictures from Daleville to Hay Rock at this link.
It's hard to contain my enthusiasm lately. I worry that this may be a fleeting thing. I hope it isn't, because it's clearly beneficial for my health. I've lost about sixty pounds since I started making an effort in late July. It 's only been about five months, but I'm already at the weight I'd hoped to get down to when I first started. I think I can lose more without too much difficulty. I'd like to lose another forty pounds. I still won't be thin at that weight, but I'm sure I'll feel better. I'm sure I'll also be better able to do the things I enjoy.
Developing an intense interest, and then losing interest, would be typical of me. I've done that many times. I'm comforted by the fact that, quite often, my intense new interests hang around and become lifetime sources of excitement and comfort. My interest in my girlfriend certainly hasn't been fleeting. For more than two years now, thoughts of her continue to permeate my waking thoughts and dreams. I'm sure that she believes at this point that hiking is the only thing I think about. She would be surprised, I'm sure, if she knew how much time I spend out on trails thinking about her. Her smile is more beautiful than any of the gorgeous views I've taken in this year. Her voice is more beautiful than any of the sounds I've heard, and her presence brings me joy and peace beyond anything I've experienced in the mountains. Hiking makes me happy primarily in that it gives me time to be lost in my thoughts of her.
On a lighter note, craft beer obviously hasn't been a fleeting interest, either. If nothing else, this blog would indicate that craft beer is at least a serious passion and a favorite pursuit. Good beer does for my mouth what music does for my ears. I can't imagine losing interest in that.
Maybe hiking will ultimately motivate me to write more, and to write better. I hope so. I hope it gives me access to better ways to present my thoughts and my hopes in written form. Sometimes, when I'm on a trail, everything comes together in my mind. Everything makes sense. Sometimes, on a trail, I have a calm and comforting certainty that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. I mean that in a general sense, in terms of my life. I still have fears. I still have dread and worry. But, sometimes, when I'm out on the side of a mountain, I know that everything is OK. In the movement of my feet and the pounding of my heart, I occasionally find a way to be still.