My outdoor adventures have largely been solo – either with L or without L. I do occasionally convince people to join me – I have people that are up for the occasional hike or “camping cottage” camping weekend, but I do not have anyone that is as passionate about it as I am. I’ve known that for a lot of the things I want to do, I have to do them alone, or they won’t happen. And I’ve embraced the solo aspect of my journeys as a part of process. It has been part of the adventure – proving to myself what I am capable of, learning to be alone. A lot of the emotional work happens when you are alone as well – there have been many nights alone in my tent or a cabin after L goes to sleep that have been vital to mental health. To read, to journal, to think.
While exploring social media (I am new to Instagram and twitter), I came across a nation wide group with a local chapter of parents who hike with their children. I couldn’t make it to most of the hikes I saw posted – either during the workday or too far away. But! This past week, I saw one come up at one of the state parks that is close by, for a sunset hike on Friday. There was plenty of time for me to make it after work, and a convenient location. I signed up!
A big part of me wanted to have a quiet Friday night – literally crash after the week I had after returning from our big adventure on Sunday evening. But! I knew getting outside, being active and meeting new people would be just as relaxing and a great way to unwind. I also knew I might not have a chance to get outside the rest of the weekend due to other obligations. RSVPing also made it unlikely that I would end up not going because I didn’t “feel like it,” because I felt lazy or chickened out. It held me accountable to do this thing that I really wanted to do.
It was so worth it. I kept thinking of it during the day – something to look forward to. And I was also proud of myself for doing it (it is not easy to meet up with people you don’t know!), and for giving L that experience. The view was truly incredible, the atmosphere of the hike was perfect (handful of moms with young kids), and it was a new experience for L and for me (night hike).
I had a headlamp for myself and for L (it was dark for most of the hike down), and I used my camelback – so I could be hands free to help L and it was hot enough I thought we would need water on the hike (L drank a lot). I did end up carrying L for a small portion of the hike down, but he was so tired since it was way past his bedtime. He had done this hike on his own before, but it was much cooler and not close to bedtime 🙂 One of the moms brought glow sticks, which was a great idea.
I also realized there was another night hike going on at the same state park that same day, organized by the organization that supports to the park. This experience just made me realize the community that is out there. It is easy for me to do these things alone, and my instinct is not to make the effort, but, so much comes from joining others and getting involved. It brings new experiences, makes me happy and teaches me new things.