Filed under: Family Camping, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking
Thoughts On Hiking Alone…
Terry and I are what I would consider avid hikers. Whenever we are planning an RV or camping trip, it is usually around a hike we want to do or a peak we want to summit. Nearly all of our hiking is done in tandem. At least once every week we head out for a hike lasting anywhere between two and five hours. The last weekend in February, however, he was in Wisconsin with our son skiing his 32nd Birkebeiner 52K Ski Race and I was alone with the dogs for the weekend. A beautiful Saturday morning (our usual hiking time) dawned and I was unable to resist the urge to head up one of our favorite peaks.
We have hiked this trail many times, including every weekend this year thus far and many weekends from October through December. It is the ideal winter hiking trail as it is located on the sunny side of Taos Canyon, ten minutes from our home. It is also a strenuous climb so it is a terrific workout no matter how often we have done it. In addition, the intense sunshine and sparse tree cover mean it has much less snow and ice than many other trails in our Rocky Mountain community, thus it is easier to travail in the winter than most. These same qualities make it an unpleasant hike in the summer—it is sweltering hot and there is little relief from the intense sun. But in winter, it is a delight!
So that is where I headed with Annie, one of our cocker spaniels in tow, that sunny Saturday morning. As I pulled away from the house, it felt different than our typical Saturday hikes. I was alone, except for the dog. But I wanted to enjoy this activity on this beautiful day and I am sure there will be other times Terry and I will be apart on a weekend and I will hike alone. But I miss my human hiking companion.
Now, it goes without saying that I would never do this if I were not extremely familiar with this trail. As I said we have hiked it together numerous times and it is one of the safest trails I could imagine. We arrived at the trailhead, I buckled on my small pack carrying our water and apple (Annie loves apples as much as I do and we agree there is no better snack on a hike!) and we set off.
I was immediately aware that I was noticing different things than when Terry and I have been on the trail together. For one thing, we are usually talking, which means I miss some of the less obvious scenery. For another, I am looking at him at times; today I have nowhere to look but at the natural beauty surrounding us. I was struck with a contemplative mood and found myself not talking much at all, even to Annie.
The day was delightful. Sunny and 20 degrees at the start and it warmed up as we hiked. I noticed the fresh snow on the surrounding mountains; a small cairn of rocks marking a turning point in the trail; a multitude of elk track where they had gathered since our fresh snow yesterday.
We were startled by a man approaching us from behind with a large male poodle who was very interested in playing with Annie, but was a bit intimidating, being more than twice her size. We moved on, hoping not to encounter them again. We reached the peak in record time, enjoyed our apple and ice water, then headed back down, encountering three separate single adults who are all accommodating when Annie asks to be petted, her little tail vibrating back and forth with delight.
We made it down to the trail head, again in record time, but it is a different experience hiking without my companion. I am alone, but for the dog, but in spite of that, the day is glorious, the hike invigorating and the views, spectacular. I also come away from this experience with a sense of accomplishment; I did not let my weekend alone deter me from enjoying an activity I very much wanted to do. I was filled with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Life is good. But I look forward to next weekend when Terry will accompany me once again.
Read more about New Mexico campgrounds and things to do in New Mexico.