Monday, November 23, 2009

Hiking With Hunters

After guest preaching at Pawling United Methodist Church yesterday, I enjoyed a hike in Pawling Nature Reserve. Since the Appalachian Trail runs through this 1,000 acre reserve, I hiked along this famous path. The most spectacular feature I saw was a large waterfall in Duell Hollow Brook. The photo on the left is from the Nature Conservancy website.

This is hunting season in this part of the world and I shared the reserve with a few deer hunters. Orange vests were provided at the trail head so that hunters can distinguish hikers from deer.

Even wearing my orange vest, I felt a sense of wary anxiety during the hike. Although the few rifle shots I heard sounded far away, it stoked my uneasiness. I decided to cut my hike short.

I must admit that the knowledge of deer hunting nearby diminished the spiritual dimension of the hike. Fear is a formidable enemy of mindfulness. When you're focused on the possibility, however remote, of meeting a stray bullet, it's difficult to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings. I plan to avoid hikes with hunters in the future!

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