Go For A Walk – January 12, 2023

While I was walking along Echo Lake this morning with the snow flurries coming down, it occurred to me that for as far back as I can recall, walking has been a constant for me. I’m not talking about the basic human ambulatory function, but about “going for a walk”. 

Everywhere I’ve lived over the past thirty plus years I’ve had a defined route, or routes when I wanted to take a walk. In one place the walk was a three-mile affair that featured being dragged about by a 90lb. dog, but all of the others were just me putting in the miles.

There’s a primal enjoyment walking about. It’s the appropriate speed for a human, slow enough to engage with the surroundings, but fast enough  to generate some anticipation. What might be around the next corner? Or over that hill?  I find it very calming and relaxing. It’s the ultimate problem solving and stress-relieving activity I’ve ever been able to find. Walking helps to put things in perspective.

Not only is walking a great relaxation activity, it’s said to be one of the best exercises  to stay healthy, or recover from some kind of physical issue. I’ve had more than one doctor tell me to “go for a walk” more often to address physical maladies, most notably a back issue that plagued me for years. It worked, too. My back has been great since committing to going for a walk every day, or as close to that as I can manage.

Here in the Borderlands I find myself with three “go for a walk” options. Many times I’ll walk from the house along the state road down to the bridge over the Clyde River and back, a fairly level distance of about 1 ½ miles. I’m doing this one less and less, as some days it feels like I’m taking my life in my hands. People drive  way too fast on this road and do not pay as much attention as they ought to.

Across the state road is my neighbor’s hayfield. Behind that is a hilly ridge that I sometimes hike up, usually in the winter with snowshoes. I went up there the other day with only boots and gaiters as we still don’t have much snow. Lot’s of deer and squirrel tracks criss-crossing the old woods trail. I think I saw some bunny tracks as well.

Increasingly my go-to option for the daily walk is to head over to Echo Lake, and walk the eastern road. I’ve defined 2 ½ and a 3 ½ mile walks along this dirt road. The longer route covers just about all of the elevation gain of the entire loop trail around the lake, and is a perfect hour long jaunt.  Over the summer and fall I walked the entire loop around the lake at least six or seven times, a distance of just over 5 miles.

Of course, the best walks are on the trails in the woods. I’ll be returning to those within a few days. Not having done the winter mountain hiking thing for many, many years, I want to time these first few trips to have the best possible weather. I’d prefer it if there were more snow on the ground, too, as I want to break out the snowshoes, but if it’s bare boots and maybe micro-spikes, so be it.

Some folks like to record their exercise metrics and the like, and while to me the trip is the thing, I’m not immune. While I don’t do any of the wearable devices such as a FitBit or smartwatch, I do have a couple of apps that give me a general idea of time, distance and elevation.

The Pedometer app is available from the Google Play Store. It’s not super accurate, but does provide a decent accounting of steps and distance broken down by day-week-month. Of course, it’s only recording your steps when your smartphone is on your person. I’ve learned that it will record steps while I’m mowing the lawn on the riding mower, so I don’t carry it any more when I do that. Fortunately, it doesn’t do that when you’re in a car. But it’s free- you get what you pay for.

I’ve used All Trails for a long time, but until last year only on the computer when researching trails to hike. I added it to the smartphone this year for a couple of reasons. The app now allows you to download your route so it’s available when there’s no cell signal, a useful feature here in the hinterland. It also is much more accurate regarding distances and elevation, which I find useful. I bought it when they had a half-price deal going last summer.

The calorie expenditure metric is also useful, and more accurate than the one within the Pedometer app. It’s a great justification for that extra beer or glass of wine after a hard day on the trails. 

So if you can, go for a walk, and go often. You’ll feel better about a lot of things.

Thanks for dropping by!

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