Hiking alone


Today's weather forecast--sunny and 25 degrees--inspired me to go for a hike. I left home shortly after 7 and by 9 am I was starting the easy climb up Mt. Takao at the western edge of Tokyo. The weather lived up to its promise--warm, sunny and perfect for a short jaunt into the mountains.

I went alone and I think it's the first time I've hiked by myself in the forest since I was a kid.

From 1975 until I left home for college, I lived in an undeveloped vacation resort in the low, rolling mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. There were no neighbors, but there were hectares of land to explore. And I did. I had favorite trails that only the deer and I knew about. I understood the ridge-line of the nearby mountain like nobody else, except maybe our dog, Turkey, who liked to come along with me. I could make a beeline to interesting rocks and trees and to the head of the streams that fed the lake in the valley below.

Today's trip wasn't quite so intimate with the land. I stuck to the trails and I wasn't exactly alone. There were scores of senior citizens hiking, too. They were so beautifully prepared--thin white cotton towels around their necks, collapsable aluminum walking sticks, pants tucked into their socks. And every one of them had a backpack stuffed full with provisions. Really put me to shame. I had no fancy hiking gear--not even a backpack.

But it was such a freeing experience to walk mostly by myself in nature. I should make sure to do that more often. Only next time, I'm taking a towel.


Towels? Eh, sweat profusely and with pride, I say!

I remember hiking up that mountain too - and all the rocks. I love going off trails, even now. I usually only brave it when I'm hiking with someone else though - unless I'm familiar with the terrain.

Thanks for the story about your childhood. I grew up in Roleystone, a small town on the outskirts of Perth, Western Australia.

Roleystone can be distinguished from a lot of Perth because most of Perth is built on a flat coastal plain. We only have the one range of lowly hills in metro Perth, and Roleystone's one of the few towns in it.

The other thing that distinguishes Roleystone from most of the metro area is that it still has trees, whereas we've done an excellent job over 175 odd years of occupation clearfelling wherever we go. Roleystone was probably clearfelled at some point too, now that I think about it, but there's still a lot of big regrowth there and lots of it.

I remember the smell of gum leaves in hot summers most of all.

Good luck on your next hike - and follow Ford Prefect by buying a froody hiking towel with provisions soaked into it, that way you can suck on a corner of your towel for nutrition while everyone else is left untucking their socks from their pants in your wake.

And as you pass, you'll know they are thinking man she really knows where her towel is.

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