Immerse yourself in nature

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Mar 212004
 
Authors: John Teten

Take Cancun: the softly crashing waves, the toe-warming sand,

the empty bottles of booze and the crowds filled with scantily clad

women and you have my Spring Break – well, kind of.

Trade the ebbing tide for a slowly meandering canyon stream.

Replace the sand with grainy red clay, the booze for Iodine

filtered water and the babes for five dirt-crusted dudes and the

picture is a little clearer.

Last week I participated in the highly underrated sport of

hiking.

I’ll be the first to advocate March Madness, the upcoming

baseball season and the latest off-season move in the National

Football League, but there is something special in spending time in

nature.

Few choose to strap the weight of a small child to their back

and trudge through sinking sand during their week of rest, but I

did.

My first real hiking experience was a swift 11-hour drive away

in Escalante, Utah. The trip ended in miles of dirt washboards and

attempts to hit the road-crossing rabbits.

As stated earlier, this was my first real time hiking, so you

can imagine my – and my body’s for that matter – surprise when we

decided to undertake a seven-hour first day. I swear my arches were

about to collapse and my hips and shoulders were rubbed raw from

the jostling pack.

Though bushed, I still had an overwhelming sense of

accomplishment. I could continue on this narrative for quite some

time, but I would rather point out a few things that I learned this

week that you may not know, …

Sleep nude. I normally adhere to this advice, but with the

desert temp dropping as the sun set I crawled into my bag with

layers on. Bad call – I woke up hours later sticky with sweat,

which not only added to my indecent odor but also made me cold as

it dried later that night.

Don’t lead. Thrice I saw one of my buddies sink knee-deep in

swallowing sand and their misfortune was my gain.

Use poles. If it weren’t for the arm-cardio, my fingers would

have swollen into watermelons.

Don’t throw rocks at your naked friends. In perhaps the greatest

gut-busting moment of my life, I watched as my clothed friend

wrestled our not-so-clothed pal looking to take revenge from a

slight stone pelting.

I learned much, much more, but I suppose each trip teaches you

something. So, for my final tip … get out there. You can’t enjoy

our wondrous world if you’re not immersed in it.

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