Toward the end of 2020, I started cataloguing the group hikes I’d taken over the year. Because of covid, I was only able to participate in group hikes for 5.5 months of the year, but still managed far more than I would have expected before I started counting. This year, of course, I expect there to be even more. Not every hike is particularly noteworthy, but one of the intentions I’ve been trying to hold to in 2021 is to be more mindful of things – my body, my emotions, my moments, etc. I’ve always loved hiking, but it wasn’t until 13 months ago that I ever truly hiked with a group. That group, as I’ve said many times before, has been a godsend and lifesaver through this pandemic, and has helped me to return to my core self after years of mental health floundering.
Now, I know some people don’t give a toss about my hikes etc etc, and I post about them on all my social medias already, so I wasn’t planning to post much about them here. But this is my space. This is my place for recording life as I live it. Sometimes I stray too far and forget that. The Zen Leaf is my creation, my baby, and the only thing that matters is that I nurture it in the way I wish. So I’ve decided that I will document my hikes here. Not individually, as that would pretty much be ALL the blog was about then, and I’ve never been good at one-track writing, but in clustered posts. Just a place to journal all the bits and pieces of awesome that occur on each of these outings. Feel free to skip!
1. Have to start the year off right! Start how you mean to go on, yes? There were six of us on this hike, and we discovered New Year’s offerings at the top of the hill. [Note: This hike was 1/52 for my 52 Hike Challenge.]
2. Notably, this was more walk than hike, but still with my hiking group. This is one of my favorite parts of the city. It’s just so beautiful, full of deer and birds and plants, and we always take a side trip off the path to see the Big Tree.
3. Only two of us made it out and some of the trails were closed, but we did a bunch of side loops to get our miles in. Jeannette is a big local history buff and was asking me all about the history for the park. It was a really fun hike. [Hike 2/52 for my 52 Hike Challenge.]
4. This little oasis sits in the middle of town. This was my first time there, and I was completely entranced. Not pictured, but there is all sorts of artwork and Korean writing around the lake, plus tons of egrets and fat ducks. Also not pictured were the amazing cypress trees with hundreds of little knees on them. I can see why this place is a photographer hot spot, not to mention a place where one of my friends got engaged.
5. I first hiked this trail last February and haven’t been back since, as the entrance park was shut down for construction for much of 2020. We saw a lot of weird stuff on this hike, which is an out-and-back ending at a pond at the foot of some cliffs. There were these two teens (maybe 13/14 years old) who were all excited about an alligator they saw in the pond as we made our way there. (There was no alligator. I was disappointed.) On the way back, we saw the same two teens walking around with a flaming roll of toilet paper. …um…yeah. So. There was that. This is also the hike where the man told me I was going to die because I got my covid vaccine. [Hike 3/52 for my 52 Hike Challenge.]
6. This evening hike was specifically a leadership team hike to celebrate Alia’s birthday. The park was extremely crowded to the point where we had to keep circling the parking lot to spot people leaving in order to get spots. It was my second time at the park, and my second time over the land-bridge that connects the two sides over Wurzbach Parkway.
7. This state park is an hour’s drive away, and a TOUGH hike with a lot of steep uphill climbs. It was gorgeous out there, but I kinda thought I might die by the end of it, especially after hiking seven miles the previous two days! I had to take four days of rest afterwards, heh. There was almost no one else at this park, but at one point, we passed a family with two young kids (roughly 1 and 3 years old). The baby was in a pack on the father’s back, and the older kid had his own child-sized Camelbak on. It was adorable! [Hike 4/52 for my 52 Hike Challenge.]
8. This was a leadership hike at a park about two hours’ drive away. Ironically, there was more elevation gain on this hike than my previous one at Lockhart, but all the gain was gradual, so it was a much easier hike generally! We also took it a lot slower, just enjoying the nature around us. We went through so many different areas with vastly different ecosystems – thick trees with ferny underbrush, then clay paths with scrub brush, then giant granite climbing rocks with cactus, or fields of burned trees. I carpooled (masks on!) with Alia for the long drive, and after the hike, our group went to Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls for a late lunch and pie. It was an all-day affair – I woke up at 5:30am, got home around 5:30pm – and exhausting and allergy-triggering (hence my fat-head mentioned last Sunday), but totally worth every moment. [Hike 5/52 for my 52 Hike Challenge.]
That’s what I’ve done so far in 2021. After typing this all up – which I did after the eighth hike – I can easily recognize how much more I remember from the more recent events vs those early in January. That shows me that I’m definitely doing right by jotting these things down. I wouldn’t want to forget the flaming toilet paper or the toddler with a Camelbak, and you can’t take photos of everything (even though I obviously try, heheh)!