Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are in dirt – John Muir
In my mission to hike three days a week and every other weekend, it sure started off strangely. Alarm on my phone was set for a 5am wake-up call making sure I made the best of the thirty minutes I had for prepping my pack. My plan was to head towards Thunderbird Conservation Park, hike the small Hedgpeth Hills and catch the sunrise by 6:30am. The drive time there would be minimal – distance there a mere twenty or so minutes from my house; the plan seemed flawless.
Should have known being awake until three in the morning would have an effect on my already failing level of motivation.
Working for my families business has its advantages sometimes especially when you need the day off. And that’s precisely what I did Monday morning until mid-afternoon. As I sat here in this office chair, listening to Pixl Radio on YouTube, “organizing” my plans for the week, an urging feeling rose from the pit of my solar plexus. Strange. My eyes instantly, momentarily, glared at the clock on this PC. Second, my mind thought of my Fieldline pack hanging from one of the racks in my garage. A sign? Maybe. I wasn’t certain. It was 3:14pm and once again my mind went to my hiking pack and oddly enough – Hedgpeth Hills. I knew if I was going to be headed out to the hills, I would be hiking solo.
Quickly googled the sunset time here in Arizona; the Hedgpeth Hills make for a nice sunset hike considering the sun dips below the White Tank Mountains further in the West Valley, creating beautiful sights. However, I wasn’t ready for a night-time hike. As the weather here is beginning to cool, the rate at which dangerous and venomous creatures crawl from their domiciles increase rapidly.
Wasted no time in changing into my hiking gear and fixing up my Fieldline pack with a built-in water reservoir (e.g. Camelbak) and headed out towards the hills. The drive through rush-hour was to be expected but my excitement remained elated on the trek there.
Arrived at the staging lot nearby one of the various trails you can choose from, strapped on my pack and set off towards the Sunrise trail-head. Lately, I’ve been hiking the Sunrise trail, reach the top of the West Mountain and come down through the Coach Whip trail, following it all the way to the trail exit directly into the staging lot.
Stepped off onto the trail as usual and as I trekked the first steep incline towards the first switchback, another feeling flashed through my body. This one was even more strange. It’s even more strange because there wasn’t anything out of the usual for this hike. Started off on the same trail hundreds of times before in the exact same manner. What was making this hike any different from the previous?
I continued onward up the steep climb eventually reaching the first switchback on Sunrise Trail. Five minutes along the trail, this alien feeling remained. And as I continued the hike around the switchback, it became stronger. Stopping for a short break, which I never do on these hills, looked around me as if an unknown force was influencing me.
Nothing out of the ordinary, I thought to myself.
I pressed on.
Reached the next two switchbacks along this hill but the questions began pouring in my mind. Why am I feeling like this? Why am I having a difficult time on this rather easy hike? Inevitably I took another break along the final switchback before reaching the top. This is highly out of the ordinary for a person like myself who’s hiked the Hedgpeth Hills for years without ever taking a break. Well, the “break” at the top of the West Mountain, but I call that just “taking in the sights around me”. It is quite the beautiful sight up there. While it is in the center of Northwest Glendale, you can see the entirety of Glendale and almost all of greater Phoenix Valley i.e. Glendale, Peoria, Surprise, Metro Phoenix, Downtown Phoenix and parts of Tempe/Mesa.
When I reached the top and sat down a comfortable boulder, I pondered on these alien feelings while hiking the West Mountain. Each thought that came to mind had a particular theme: lost. Despite the recurring theme I questioned myself. Why am I feeling lost? Why does this trail not feel familiar to me despite being on this trail hundreds of times? I was taken aback by the next thought which roared out like thunderous clouds above:
This is not your hike
“This isn’t my hike?” I asked myself, confused.
The thought never made sense and in some ways, it still doesn’t. Yes, it’s only been one day since this thought came to mind but nonetheless, I feel there is some truth to that. What truth that is, I’m not sure. There is almost a sense of I don’t belong here feeling; over-stayed my welcome of sorts.
As I ponder what it means I’m sure I’ll get back to you all on it. Perhaps you all can help me figure it out. When a feeling comes across such as the one above, what does it mean for you?