Following The Path Back To My True Self

 I am so glad I took that hike Sunday!  Being able to get out and do things like that is a large part of what makes life so very good for me now.  Yes, there was a time I considered going to the mall a good hike.  Those days are gone now though.  These days a 3 mile hike, with part of it uphill is a good hike for me. 

This change has come about for many reasons.   Age had given me enough wisdom to realize that the life I had been living, really wasn't much of a life.  Circumstances and determination allowed me to make really drastic changes. 

As I hiked Sunday and once more allowed myself the time to really drink in the beauty that is all around me here, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I had made the right choice when it came to creating a better life for myself. 

At times, I still find myself totally in awe of the beauty around me.  I'm really glad of that because it means I have not reached a point where it has become so familiar I no longer see and appreciate it.  I know as long as I continue to do things like go hiking, that will never happen.  Hiking does that for me.  I think that is true with most people.  I say most people, because sadly, some people are just so wrapped in the negatives of life they couldn't see the positives if they danced up to them and French kissed them. 

I never dreamed just how much my life would change when I chose to truly live it to the fullest again.  Certainly never foresaw myself becoming all that I have.  And that's probably just as well because had I seen this coming, I might well have run screaming.  At that time, all I would have been able to think was, "I can't do that!"   "Can't" has become a word I don't have much to do with anymore when it comes to what I am capable of.

Sometimes, I look at myself and am just totally amazed at what I have become.  Of course when I do that, the muse tells me in no uncertain terms I have always been this, that I just lost the way to my true self for a while.  The path back to my true self now includes hiking trails that at one point, I would have looked at in horror, and refused to even try.  I am so very glad that woman no longer exists.  Ecstatic that the woman I now am will take walking stick in hand, and take that trail with eager confidence.  

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8 Miles and Two Blisters

My feet are tired and sore, my little toes feel as if they are on fire from the blisters I popped on them just now, but I don't care because those blisters were formed doing an 8 mile hike with some really great friends in the Hill Country State Natural Area.

I was hesitant to accept Silvia's invitation because I knew I wasn't in as good a shape when it came to walking and hiking as she is.  I asked her how long the hike would be? She said 4 to 5 miles.  Since I had done a couple of 5 mile hikes I decided I could do that, and made arrangements to take a hike a today.  It was only after she got me to the park that she admitted the hike was going to be 8 miles.  By then it was too late to back out, so I shouldered my backpack, and made up my little blonde mind to keep up with them, or die trying.

Doing the eight miles really pushed me at times.  There were moments I wondered if I was going to be able to finish it.  Other moments when I found myself soundly cursing Silvia, and seriously considering whacking her upside the head with my walking stick.  But, I did not give up.  Nor did I whack Silvia upside the head.  Instead I just took deep breaths as I walked along, endeavored to persevere, and focused on putting one foot in front of the other.

At one point my left ankle began to hurt pretty badly.  A strange occurrence since it was my right ankle I sprained so badly in October of last year.  Silvia laid her wonderful healing hands upon that aching ankle though as we stopped to rest it, and snack on trail mix and other goodies.  Within moments the pain was gone, and ankle was no longer red and stiff.

Tis true that had I declined that invitation I wouldn't have blisters on my toes right now.  However, tis also true I would not be sitting here right now feeling vibrantly alive, and so much stronger in mind, body and spirit that I did yesterday.

Accepting that invitation, then pushing myself as hard as I did to finish that hike, and not become a hindrance to the others on it made me a stronger healthier person in so many ways.  And as I wrote in a FB post, the blisters will heal, but the memories of today will last a lifetime.

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A Good Stretch Of The Legs

Heart of Boerne Trail
I spent a superb Sunday morning strolling along the Boerne Trails.  I figured since my plan is to do a tour of the Heart of Boerne Trail on November 17th, it might be a good idea to walk the trail beforehand and see how long it would take to walk that trail, then make our way back up Main Street. 

As I made my way along the Heart of Boerne Trail, I knew if the weather was as nice as today, then those joining me for our little tour would truly enjoy themselves.  The wide paved trail winds it way along the Cibolo Creek, to River Road Park.  The landscaping along the trail was beautiful this perfect Fall day.  There was even a small maple tree showing off its Fall foliage.  As I continued to make my way along the trail I also some turtles sunning themselves on a log.

I smiled and nodded to those I passed on the trail, sometimes moving over for joggers and dog walkers.  It was wonderful to see people out enjoying this beautiful new addition to Boerne. It may not be as big and fancy as the San Antonio River Walk, but the little town of Boerne has something to truly be proud of in building this gorgeous set of trails. 
After making my way along River Road Park for a little ways, I backtracked, and made my way to Main Street Boerne, and then back to the Plaza where the tour would begin. Because I used my All Trails iPhone App, I now knew exactly how far our little trip would be.  And knew we could easily complete the tour, including lunch and some Main Street shopping in 3 or 4 hours. I had a delicious Quiche from Bear Moon Bakery today at one of their outdoor tables, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the traffic go by as I ate.  
A little Fall foliage
The Heart of Boerne section of this set of trails is a peaceful little well paved walkway that makes enjoying the Cibolo Creek, and Main Street Boerne a great experience. If one decides to continue along that trail after doing Main Street Boerne, then you will find the walk to Cibolo Nature Center a wonderful urban trail experience at times. That experience will include many ducks and geese that make River Road Park a great place for those who enjoy interacting with these beautiful creatures. 
Once you are at Cibolo Nature Center, you can continue hiking some of their beautiful undeveloped trails.  I have hiked there several times, and it is a beautiful area.  The trails are easy to moderate.  Birds and other wildlife can be seen along if the trails there if one takes the time to really look.

My quiche lunch from Bear Moon Bakery

Headed to Cibolo Nature Center

It was a good 2.5 mile stretch of the legs!
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Making Tracks

I took a hike through the Kreutzberg Canyon Natural Area today. I saw one beautiful red flower growing along the entrance road as we were driving down to the river parking area. Figured I would see more of them along my hike, but I never did see another red flower like that one. Fortunately it was still there when Mr. Grinch picked me back up from the park when I finished my hike, so I took a photo of it to share, and hopefully find out what kind of flower it is.

The first thing of interest I saw along the hiking trail I took was a bit of beautiful web witchery. Oh how I love these kinds of tangled webs. I took a nice shot of it, then continued along the trail. I saw one of those wide inviting trails I love so much, and headed down it. The map I had printed out to carry with me on the hike was still in my backpack, so I really had no idea where I was going on this trail, and didn't care. After awhile the wide inviting trail changed, and I saw some very clear deer tracks in the dirt track I was now following. I snapped a pic of them, and continued on. Eventually I wound up back at the picnic tables near the river parking lot, and decided it was a good time for a short water break.

After the
water break I headed down the trail to the river, followed the river for a little while, then turned around. As I was coming back up the that trail I took a picture of a whimsical piece of nature's architecture that had caught my eye as I went up that riverbank trail.

I hooked a left after coming up from the river bank, and set off down another series of trails. Those trails took me on a lovely hike that left me a little physically tired, but extremely spiritually rejuvenated. I startled another Jackrabbit as I was going down one trail. He sat very still for a few seconds as if posing. But, wouldn't you know the moment I raised the camera to my eye, he decided to take off. I managed to snap one quick photo of him which turned out okay.

I finally made my meandering way back to where I had started my hike with 30 minutes to spare before Mr. Grinch would be there to pick me up. I sat down at one of the nearby picnic tables and had a snack while I rested and waited for him. Jack Links, teriyaki beef steak nuggets, crackers, trail mix, and water never tasted so good!

I had downloaded a nifty little app called All Trails to my iPhone last night because I wanted a way to keep track of the trails I have hiked, and how far I went while hiking them. According to the Tracks feature on it, I hiked over 3 miles today at an average speed of 1.6 mph. My moving speed was 2.1 mph. There were times my top speed was a fast 5.1 mph. All in all, it this hike was certainly a good stretch of the legs.

To see all the photos I took while hiking today
Click Here and choose Kreutzberg Canyon Natural Area

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Such an inviting trail

Today I escaped the blowing wind by first getting a quick cut and style, then talking Mr. Grinch into going for a drive. After a scenic drive on FM 474, we took off to the James Kiehl River Bend Park. I took walking stick in hand, and headed off down the trail that takes one to the river. But instead going right to the river this time, I headed along the wider trail running above the river. I walked along that trail for a few moments, then simply had to stop and stare for second at the ever so inviting trail that lay before me. I snapped a picture of that inviting trail, debated for another moment, decided Mr. Grinch had food and drink in the truck, and took that irresistibly inviting trail.

After treading lightly upon that trail for several moments, I came to a spot on the river bank that was easy to walk down to. It offered the perfect place to perch my butt, and simply enjoy the moment. As I sat watching the still swollen Guadalupe flow by, listening to the birds chirping all around me, I had a moment of utter soul soothing tranquility as I took in the beauty all around me.

The recent rains have brought blessed relief from the terrible drought we endured last summer. Lush, is one good word to describe the flora all around me at that moment. And the trees, I know in my heart and soul they are somehow singing with happiness as they continue soaking up this much needed moisture, and unfurling bright shiny new leaves.

The fauna of course is busy eating the heck out of all that lush vegetation. Or trying not to be eaten by something tempted by their now plump goodness. Taking inviting trails like the one that seduced me down it today, reminds me in a very profound way that despite all the beauty, it's still a matter of survival of the fittest. Being reminded of that did not disturb my tranquil moment. Why should it? That is the way of nature. Just as it is the nature of nearly any beast to sometimes take a moment and smell the roses so to speak.

And yes, many animals do that in their own way. Cases in point, a horse, dog, or cat happily rolling in the grass, then laying on its side and soaking up the sunshine. I may never know what animals truly think at moments like that. But I do know as I sat on the river bank today, I fully understand the joy in life they are expressing.

To see the two new photos I took on today's hike Click Here then choose Hiking

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A Body Truly In Motion

I was looking at my recent photos and timelines on Face Book, and know I was wearing a big smile as I did because they show a body truly in motion. Today this body in motion descended down into the Cave Without A Name. And what a wonderful adventure that was! I somehow connected with that cave on a very profound level. My heart and soul could feel the haunting ancient energy of that magnificent cave.

Keeping this body in motion by hiking and visiting places like Cave Without A Name is offering me a wonderful way to connect with Mother Nature on a very profound spiritual level. I know that right now, after experiencing so much of her outdoor beauty with the hikes I've been taking, then descending down into one of her ancient caves, and seeing what she could do indoors, with no light, a little water, and a whole lot of time, made me appreciate what a patient artist she really is.

This beautiful hill country is packed with interesting places to go, and things to do. Some of them, like the Cibolo Nature Center, James Kiehl River Bend Park, Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area, and Kreutzberg Canyon Natural Area do not charge any entry fee. Bodies in motion of all ages can enjoy these beautiful natural areas. They are the perfect place for a family outing, a solitary hike, or even to gather with friends at.

We are going to be in for some stormy weather the next couple of days that will restrict my outdoor activities. By Wednesday though things should start settling back down. Thursday I can once more put on my hiking boots, take walking stick in hand, and spend the day once more being a body truly in motion.

To see my most recent Face Book photos, including those of Cave Without A Name Click Here

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Confidence, one step at a time

With walking stick in hand, I am gaining hiking confidence with every step I take. Today we went back to the Guadalupe River State Park. I spent a couple of wonderful hours wandering through the Wagon Ford, Walk In Tent Camping section of the park. Then I hiked quite a bit of the 2.5 mile Loop 2 Trail. No, I don't intend to go tent camping, but the trail running through walk in tent area is fantastic!

As I happily wandered further up that trail, I saw where a tree had fallen, and now lay across the hiking trail. Of course no true hiker would be stopped by that tree. Nor will it stop me next time I visit the park for some serious hiking. I intend to go through that tree, and see what's on the other side of it.

The Loop 2 trail is a beautiful little 2.5 mile stretch of the legs. I hiked part of it from one side, then got back in the truck. After going down the road a little ways, I had Mr. Grinch stop again when I saw where it came out on the other side of the road. I hiked quite a good ways down it from that side as well. I took a couple of pics along the way of the trail itself because it really is a neat looking trail in spots. One of the photos I took shows where the trail is rather stony ground in spots. Fortunately my trusty walking stick allowed me to easily navigate that rather stony ground.

I learned very quickly that it is better to have the walking stick and not really need it, than to really need it, and not have it. One never knows what may the terrain may be like over the next hill, or around the next bend in the trail. Having that walking stick with me gives me the little bit of help I need to confidently navigate whatever terrain I cross while hiking.

To see more photos of Guadalupe State Park I have taken Click Here.

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Hooked on Hiking!

Since doing Enchanted Rock, which was a truly life changing experience for me, I have become completely hooked on hiking! Today I had Mr. Grinch drop me off at the Cibolo Nature Center and spent a couple of hours happily hiking the beautiful trails there. I did learn one very important lesson today though. Make sure I can get the blasted bottle of water open before I start the hike!

I sat down in a lovely spot after hiking a little ways, took a picture, then was going to take a drink. Unfortunately the lid on the bottle was screwed on so tight, even after beating it on the rock I was sitting on, I still couldn't get open. The good news is, further up the trail I ran into a family out for an outing coming back down the trail. I whipped out the bottle of water, held it up, and said, "Would you please do me a big favor and get this blasted bottle of water open for me?"

The woman laughed and said, "Oh I see you got one of those bottles." She tried opening it, but it wouldn't budge. Then she handed it to her husband, who opened it very easily. He just grinned at and said as he handed it back, "You girls loosened for me." Thank goodness for strong men along the trail who can open a bottle of water us girls have already "loosened" for him!

Continuing my hike taught me the trail right at the edge of river is just difficult enough to be challenging in places, but not so scary I was afraid to take the next step. As long as one watched where I put my feet, and used my walking stick, I did just fine. There are a couple of rocky places in the trail you have to step up that are a little tricky for me. But having that stick with me made them far less tricky.

Once I reached what appeared to the end of that trail I backtracked a little ways, then went up some steps that took me to another wider flatter and far easier trail. I took that trail back to where I began. I took a short break, ate some of the trail mix I had brought along, drank some water, and just enjoyed the beauty all around me. Once rested I took the marsh trail. The marsh trail is very easy, but interesting trail. A lot of it a board walk, right above the marsh.

For those who live in this area, or who visiting this area, I highly recommend the Cibolo Nature Centerin Boerne, Tx as a great place for a solitary hike, or a family outing. There are plenty of bird for those who like bird watching. There are also squirrels and other critters if you look carefully around, and pay attention to what you are really seeing. The trails are a truly wonderful way to reconnect with nature. There are beautiful quiet places along the trail that are simply soul soothing.

And thanks to a nifty Rapid Weaver Plug In called Fabo Gallery I can now easily share my Face Book photos with all my website readers, even those who are not on Face Book. This is great for me and my readers because I upload far more photos to Face Book than anywhere else now. To see this new feature and check out some of the many Face Book photos I have, including the newest ones from Cibolo Nature Center, Click Here then use the handy drop down menu to choose the photo album you wish to see.

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Still Enchanted

I have been adding a few more photos to my Enchanted Rock album. These great photos were taken by Ron Meadows with his older 35 MM camera. I forgot to grab my good digital camera as we left, so am very grateful he is allowing me to download them from his Facebook page. From now on, my good digital camera stays tucked in a pocket of my groovy new backpack so that next time I go hiking, I will be able to take great photos too. Though not as great as Ron takes with that 35 MM.

One of my favorite photos that Ron took is this one of me standing there leaning on my walking stick surveying the magnificent scenery around me. Ron was hiding in a gully below me, and I had no idea the camera was on me. As you can see from the look on my face in that photo, I am totally enthralled with that scenery. And I will have to admit, more than a little amazed at myself for already having come that far up the rock. The feelings of accomplishment and inner peace I had at that moment in time cannot be described, only experienced.

The rock solid truth here is I really don't usually deal well with heights. Add to that the fact I was a couple of days short of my 54th birthday, and have no depth perception due to having sight in only one eye, and perhaps you can see why hiking up Enchanted Rock was not as easy a task for me to undertake as it would be for some. However, as the expression on my face shows in that photo, I overcame all that as I stood there leaning on the stick that made that climb a lot easier for me.

Sometimes, life takes its toll on all of us in some form or another. We reach a place in time where we wonder if we have the strength and courage to do what we need, or want to do? You can pray to whatever God or Goddess you believe in for strength and courage, and receive to a certain degree what you are praying for via faith in that God or Goddess. But, sometimes, a person needs more than that. Sometimes, a person needs to know on a very personal level that he or she has the strength and courage to physically and mentally do something. The hike to the summit of Enchanted Rock renewed not only my faith in the things I believe in, but also in myself.

The stunning views from Enchanted Rock are inspiring from any level you are on. The feelings of accomplishment and exhilaration when you reach the summit make the views from it even more breathtaking. No matter what your reasons for climbing Enchanted Rock, reaching that summit does open a new world to anyone viewing it. I stood there, 425 feet above the earth below me, feeling both like a 400ft Amazon woman, and a tiny little ant at the same time. But what an absolutely astounding feeling that was! Because I had enough sense to stay well back from the edge, at no time was I in fear of falling. Climbing that wonderfully Enchanted Rock taught me I'm not really that afraid of heights, so much as being close to the edge of a ledge.

I learned so many things about myself on that climb to the summit of Enchanted Rock. Things I will never forget. Things I will remember in my mind, as well as heart and soul, every time I look at that photo of me standing there completely entranced by Enchanted Rock. I intend to make very sure I stay completely enthralled by what I experienced hiking Enchanted Rock. One way I intend to do that is by undertaking even more hikes. With backpack on, Freddy along for the ride, and walking stick in hand, I intend to allow life to enchant me every damn chance it gets!

Click Here then use the handy drop down menu to choose Enchanted Rock from my Face Book Photos

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A precious gift, and a truly Enchanted Rock

It has become a standing joke that because of my not very good luck at Farkle and Bingo, I am going to have do something like sacrifice a goat in order to win. Naturally I have NO intentions of really sacrificing a goat. However, a gag gift given to me Wednesday night at Farkle by my friends Colleen, Ron, Brian, and Peggy has resulted in me being the proud owner of a tiny plastic toy goat. I was so touched by this funny loving gift, that little goat, who we named Freddy Farkle, is now one of my most prized possessions. The fact they told me after giving it to me they had been searching for 2 weeks for some kind of toy goat for me, makes that gift even more precious to me.

Thursday I headed off to Enchanted Rock with Colleen, Ron, and Brian. There is no way, even if he had 2 good feet, Mr. Grinch is ever going to hike up a huge rock, so I was really pleased to be able to take that journey up Enchanted Rock with 3 good friends. We swung by Walmart first so I could pick up a backpack, and get Mr. Grinch a few things to make sure he had plenty to eat and drink while we were gone. I found a really nifty dark blue, trimmed in pink backpack that says Peace, Love, and Joy on the front of it, and has groovy peace symbols for zipper handles.

I took Freddy Farkle along with me on the trip up Enchanted Rock for good luck. After all, goats are natural born climbers. I am pleased to say Freddy brought us all great luck since we did reach the top of Enchanted Rock without mishap. I even posed Freddy for a couple of shots as we made our way up. And posed him after we arrived at the top with my brand new backpack, and the walking stick I bought when Moonie and I were in Big Bend.

The journey up Enchanted Rock was an incredible experience for me. The views are really magnificent. I did forget to take my good digital camera with me, so had to snap what photos I could with the iPhone camera. Next time I'll pack the good camera in my backpack along with trail mix and other goodies. In a way forgetting the other digital camera was good for me though because it allowed me really experience this fantastic journey on the level I needed to.

I rediscovered parts of myself I thought I had lost along the journey of life while we hiked to the summit of that magnificent rock. As I stood on the summit of it, 2 days shy of my 54th birthday, I remembered that in my impetuous youth I had once climbed to the summit of the great Ayers Rock in Australia. How wonderful it felt to know that all these years later, I could still make it to the top of the largest pink granite monadnock in the United States.

To see more photos of Enchanted Rock, Click Here

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