A week or so ago, I found a Facebook event link for the Rewild Your Life 30 Day Challenge being sponsored by We Are Wildness. Website owners Alissa Wild and Kevin Park say on their site:
We Are Wildness is a website dedicated to the awareness of human wildness and our important connection to Nature. The project is for people who want to positively change their lives, create community, live naturally, evolve, discover and become more connected with nature. Our main focus is introducing people to a more wild and natural way of living; which aims to improve their health, mood, mind, relationships, environment and outlook on life. By doing this we hope to contribute to the healing of humanity and the Earth.
The Rewild Your Life 30 Day Challenge is geared toward getting people outdoors and connecting with nature, specifically for the month of September 2013. If you pay $6, you get an e-book with tips, activities, journal prompts, a scavenger hunt, and general motivation. Sounded like something I'd be into, so I signed up.
It occurred to me yesterday that the last thing I need is external motivation for getting out into Wilderness more. At the time, I was in the midst of hiking the Keystone Canyon Pack Trail. This trail goes from the south side of the canyon, up and above the canyon, and comes down across from Bridal Veil Falls. It's a 2.5-mile stretch that follows a section of trail that was hacked out of the wilderness in 1898 as access to the gold fields. My mother-in-law, Carol, and I had hiked it last year (you can read about that hike here), and I knew it would be a good training hike for Peru, even if it is a short trail. It's got a decent climb, it's steep, and it's got fairly challenging footing in some places.
I was right about it being good training. After my 30-mile bike ride the previous evening, my legs were asking me what the hell I was thinking as I began climbing the first hill. They warmed up in short order, however, and carried me on without too much further complaint.
I also took advantage of the opportunity to use my hiking poles. Adventures in Good Company, the company I'm going to Machu Picchu with, highly recommends them for all their hiking trips. Last year, Carol and I were both wishing we had a set, and I was glad I brought them this time. Although I find it distracting to have to pay attention to where I place the poles as well as where I place my feet, they were a big help in the steep, rocky places where balancing is difficult. They tended to get in my way when I was trying to take pictures, but that's a sufferable inconvenience.
Clearly, autumn is the time to take photos of mushrooms. As was the case at the Alaska Botanical Gardens a week or so ago, red-capped mushrooms were making a strong showing. I thought they were perhaps Amanitas, even though they don't have white spots. Surprisingly, I don't have a mushroom identification book, so I'm forced to rely on what I can find on-line. According to www.mushroom-appreciation.com, it looks like they may be a species of Russula rather than Amanita, but I'll have to look into it further. I saw at least a half-dozen varieties of mushrooms along the trail, but I don't know any of them. I'd love to know more about edible mushrooms, but I'm not brave enough to try them out on my own.
As it turned out, I wasn't quite ready to quit hiking when I reached the point where the trail goes back down to the highway, so I continued on over the Goat Trail for another couple of miles. Supposedly, there's a point where a bridge was washed out and crossing the area is prohibited, and that's where I wanted to get to. Looking at the map I have, it appears I went past that point, but I didn't notice any bridge remains nor did I see a creek crossing I couldn't manage easily. I turned around when it started getting late and I'd already been gone longer than planned. I'll have to check it out another day.
I found it interesting how much the trail changed as it transitioned from the Pack Trail to the Goat Trail, even though the latter is just a continuation of the former. The Goat Trail didn't seem nearly as rough and uneven, and the terrain was no longer spruce forest with dense moss covering the forest floor rather than understory brush. Instead, there were more grass and herbaceous shrubs along the trail, with alder thickets just beyond. It was much more pleasant walking, and interesting in a very different way.
It was disappointing to leave the trail and have to walk back along the highway for two miles to get to where I'd left my truck. With the exception of that last couple of miles, I usually felt like I was in wilderness, despite the fact that I was following an established, signed trail, and that I could frequently just hear the sound of traffic above the roar of the Lowe River below me.
I have to admit, I felt a sense of superiority over those poor souls who were trapped in their cars driving through Keystone Canyon rather than hiking through it. By the time I got back to my truck, I estimated I'd walked about 8.5 miles. I was tired and my feet hurt, but I was so much better off, physically and emotionally, than I had been before I started. I have no doubt that Alissa and Kevin's goal of connecting people to nature in order to "improve their health, mood, mind, relationships, environment and outlook on life" is a good one. I don't need a 30-day challenge to prove that to me. I live it on a near-daily basis.
What do you do to connect to nature on a regular basis? If you don't do so already, I recommend checking out the Rewild Your Life 30 Day Challenge. It might be just what you need.