It was a stunning mid-August day in Dubois: Clear, mild, with a gentle breeze. But for some reason I was discouraged.
Was it the pain in my leg (sciatica, knee ligament sprain, who knows?)
Whatever. I know how to solve this: Get out, and get high.
Drove straight up the road at the Sheridan Creek crossing, past many switchbacks. I pulled out at a pullout, grabbed water, bear spray, and leash, and let the dog out the back.
We hiked up the road for quite a while, until beyond a cattle guard it took a sudden jog to the right. A smaller trail went left, and so did we. After a few yards, there it was: The reward.
That’s a sharp drop-off just beyond my boots. Off in the distance, beneath that jewel-bright sky, the jagged teeth of the Absaroka range stretching from left to right.
The dog and I sat there for quite a while, listening to the birds, watching the squirrels and the butterflies, feeling the breeze.
Sooner or later, he began to whimper (seldom happy sitting around for too long during a hike). But I could have sat there much longer, feeling all the little aches, physical and psychic, drifting away.
Setting off up the road again, I realized I had left the leash behind: Good excuse for one last look at that view.
The leash was where I had left it, of course. Here’s the other piece of equipment I always bring on hikes here: My bear spray with the bell attached. It clinks and clangs as I hike, always announcing my presence.
I’ve never encountered a grizzly in the woods, and I don’t want ever want to.
Further rewards awaited me, as I knew they would, on the long walk back downhill. More mountains spread out ahead at every turn.
Research shows that exercise prevents and relieves all sorts of ailments, from arthritis to cardiovascular disorders to dementia and depression. Out here, that’s no surprise and no wonder. What is a wonder is the exercise itself.
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© Lois Wingerson 2015