I have a new quest: hike all 35 Catskill Mountain peaks over 3500 feet in elevation. I’ve got one down, 34 to go.
Today I hiked Westkill Mountain, joining an organized small group because this was my first mountain hiking in winter conditions. It was wet on the lower elevations, snowy with some ice up higher.
Hiking is one of those savoring activities for me. I’ve been trying to embrace the concept of savoring after taking a course called “The Scient of Well-Being.” I believe in science, and I want well-being.
Today I savored hiking. It fits me well. Like writing a novel, it’s goal-oriented and involves a routine: putting one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again until you’ve reached your destination. I also like trails that might offer a crumb of excitement: the ledge you have to climb over, the steep and rooty descent, the 20-degree temperatures, the possibility of getting lost.
The Westkill trail was well-marked and easy to follow (no potential for excitement due to getting lost), a 6.5 mile trek up and back. My boots held back the water. My microspikes helped my footing on the initial icy descent from the top. There were only a few tricky spots where you absolutely had to focus, which I did, even though the writer’s mind likes to wander elsewhere.
I spent a lot of time the night before trying to decide how to layer, what to wear, what extra to pack. I pretty much nailed it, never getting too cold or too hot, carrying exactly what I needed.
Hiking in winter conditions can be serene. Today, the snow fell only lightly, the wind behaved like a breeze in the tops of the pines, the company was pleasant. I was lucky. And I savored it.