I stood alone and listened to the sound of water that dropped from the wooden shelter I stood underneath. I needed to catch my breath and rest. I looked out into the openness of rolling hills, sandy dunes, fog, leafless trees, and pines. The dripping water was all I heard and the rest was silence.
As I stood in place and looking out, I felt a spiritual connection and a belonging but I also felt discouraged. In my mind I kept telling myself that I was out of shape. You’re so damn out of shape. How could you let this happen? I nearly cried twenty minutes before as I struggled to climb a sand dune with slippery wet wooden logs for steps that were placed in the deep sand. I struggled with every step to try and move my body up. Even when I found good footing, my legs screamed with every move of my muscles.
From where I stood alone, my hiking group went to explore a 1.6 km loop and I opted to stay back. I sipped hot tea from my thermos, affectionately named Hikers Honey Ginger from Tea Leaf Boutique in Jasper, Alberta. Own this moment, Christina! You like solitude and right now can be a perfect moment for you. Own it and make it special.
I quietly practiced yoga, focusing on my breath and leaning deep into standing poses. Bliss.
Out of nowhere I heard HELLO DOWN THERE and about 15 people come walking down the sand dune where my friends would eventually come from. The lively group was from Westman Wilderness Club on a hike around the Spirit Sands and Devil’s Punch Bowl for what they boasted as a wine and cheese hike. Even though I do not drink, I immediately fell in love with the idea of wine and cheese and the punch bowl. Anything to do with cheese grabs my attention. We chatted more about their group and some of the adventures they have been on.
When my friends returned, I told them all about the awesome group of people I met. Had I not stayed back I likely would have missed the opportunity to meet people who share a love for the wilderness like I do. We later connected with the Wilderness club at a look out point and everyone chatted and shared some laughs.
We hiked the Spirit Sands and Devil’s Punch Bowl trails for about four hours. After lunch the grey, overcast sky from the morning changed to blue and the sun came out. The weather was absolutely gorgeous for a day of hiking. With farm land surrounding Spruce Woods Provincial Park, the Spirit Sands desert offers a unique and challenging hike.
I felt amazing after spending the whole day outside. What I feel most proud about is how I was able to change my mindset. I went from feeling discouragement to owning who I am in this present moment in my life. I chose not to hike an additional 1.6 km but I practiced yoga, meditated, and met a fun group of people. I would call that a win! Like I said before, hiking is not about the distance for me. It is about the connection I have with nature and the connection I build within myself. Body, mind, and spirit.
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