I have access to a fitness center where I can use a treadmill, a stationary bike, an elliptical machine. And for a while, I tried to exercise there on a regular basis. But I soon got bored. It was getting me nowhere – literally. I would run on the treadmill and it got me nowhere. I would ride the stationary bike and I reached no place. I climbed the elliptical machine and I never got to the top of anything.
Hiking is so much more stimulating and invigorating. I walk a trail. There is a distinct beginning and an end. Along the way, I see trees, plants, flowers, and all sorts of living creatures. I breathe in all that fresh, clean air. I bask in the warmth of the sun, while a refreshing breeze cools me down. I climb up a hill and when I get to the top, I am rewarded by a scenic vista of the place. I am happy to be living where I am. There are so many places to go for a hike or a brisk run or a challenging bike ride. I get to hike on a new trail, practically every week.
Many people today want to keep healthy by exercising regularly. But usually in a fitness center or a gym. Their exercising is very much like their lives they live: a lot of motion, effort, and perspiration but getting nowhere. They miss the serendipity and exhilaration that comes with a nature hike. If I may paraphrase this quote from T.S. Eliot:
We should never cease from hiking as our exercise. And the end of all our walking will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.