As I head out for a day of hiking I probably have within a few hours drive enough choices of where to hike to keep me busy for a decade or two without having to spend an entire day on trails I’ve been on before. But I wanted a place nearby where I could generally repeat the same hike, a place that was pretty and varied, and a place where I could hike mainly in solitude. My reasoning being that by covering the same ground I could gauge how my body and mind was affected by changes in my starting physical condition and attitude, gear I was wearing or carrying, the time of year, weather, etc..
I found that place and go there regularly, today in fact. But, instead of following my usual habit of getting the little fire in the engine of my body up and running, then flying around the hills all day like some kind of wee trail beastie sprite I decided to spend the whole time dawdling along, reading, bushwacking through the mountain woodlands, and indulging the naturalist within. I gathered spruce gum, looked at and photographed flowering plants, roots, and rocks, poked around vernal pools, watched birds, probed a variety of animal scats, and drank from trickles and cascades. It didn’t hurt that it was also about a perfect day weatherwise.