Monday, September 28, 2009

"I'm Hiiiik-ing in the Raaaain..."

After worshiping at my local United Methodist church on Sunday, I then worshiped in the cathedral of nature. This latter cathedral was Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, CT. The park is so named because it looks like a giant sleeping on his side. The photo on the left by Ken Gallager on Wikipedia is atop the giant's "chin."

My hike in Sleeping Giant was done in gentle, but steady, rain. Fortunately, I was prepared for the wet and brought rain gear, wore quick-drying wool socks, and used my trekking poles on the slippery trail.

While rain hiking has some obvious disadvantages, there are also advantages. First, I had the trail to myself and enjoyed a time of solitude only (pleasantly) interrupted by a doe and two fawns. Secondly, I enjoyed the sound of rain on the leaves and forest floor. Thirdly, I hiked much slower because of the slippery conditions.

Hiking in inclement weather has a way of focusing your attention. You watch the trail more closely so as to not slip on the numerous rocks and roots and take a fall. Because I was carefully watching my steps, I couldn't think of anything else while I was hiking.

Hiking in the rain forces a kind of mindfulness on you. You must focus on the present or you will fall. While fear is an enemy of mindfulness. being intensely focused is an aid. Focusing on the trail was akin to focusing on breathing in meditation.

While the spiritual nourishment of a hike in the rain is different from a hike in fair weather, it is enriching nonetheless. It's good to know that mindfulness is not dependent on the weather!

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