Head filled with the worrying distractions of the hour, the day, the week, the year, I park at a trailhead. Autistic son have his backpack, jacket and hat? Check. Other members of the entourage ready to go? Check. Car locked? Check.
And then we set foot on the trail. And we walk. One foot strikes the earth, the other rises and moves ahead.
These are automatic movements. There is a blind comfort to the regular rhythm, the familiar sense of pressure underfoot, and the sensory awareness of our surroundings. The air and sun on our face, the sixth sense of trees or rocks at our periphery, our hiking companions in motion nearby.
The volume button of our busy brain state gradually shifts to quieter mode. Breathing, walking, stopping to look at a bird, a coyote in the distance, the horizon. Countless elements in our surroundings dampen the anxious edgy noise in our heads.
And then there are the moments when our brains are silenced—in a good way— by a view or a sound or a feeling so overwhelmingly simple but moving that we can do nothing but stand still and absorb.
Nature—whether standing on the edge of a cliff with a grand view or crouching to view a dew-covered blossom—offers many of life’s transcendent moments.
Truth. Beauty. Love. Maybe these come to mind as elements of transcendence in life, trite as the list may sound, because they all seem to well up at the moments when I am stopped still on a trail by something stunningly simple and beautiful.
And how grateful I am to have those opportunities, on my own or with my severely challenged son who would not be able to walk these paths on his own.
This week’s Hike Notes are from the archives, Devil’s Slide, one of the most dramatic, dangerous and storied stretches of California’s famed Highway 1 converted to a walking trail when a tunnel replaced the cliff side road.
The long list of Hikes can be found on the Quick View Hike List and on the main Hikes page. All past Insights posts can also be viewed in the Insights/Hike Update News archives.
Check the Home page for the broader background story. If you’re not able to take one of these Northern California hikes, hopefully you can enjoy the photo galleries at the bottom of each hike page! Click Insights/Hike Update News for inspiring reflections. Please feel free to share, and follow on Twitter at @HikingAutism.
This week’s Hike Notes from the Archives:
(Original Hike Notes 5): Devil’s Slide
Sharing insights and hiking highlights (Hikes, Hike Search by Area) from the special needs caregiver front in San Francisco.