A couple months ago, a new friend and I decided we were going to try to maintain a once-weekly morning hike routine. On Tuesday or Wednesday every week, we head to one of the local hiking trails here on the southwest side of Colorado Springs and do a light hike before we head to our desks for the day.
I’ll be honest — if I wasn’t already out and about, having dropped my 5-year-old off at school, this isn’t a routine I could easily keep up. It’s not that I’m not a morning person (though I’m not — and I’ve tried everything to change that), it’s that I prefer my mornings to be leisurely and unrushed.
When I left my corporate many years ago to strike out on my own as a copywriter, I vowed never to wake to an alarm clock again. Starting the day with a sudden jolt, my heart racing — that’s my idea of torture. And for good or for bad, I’ve been able to keep that vow (so far) even with having to take my big kid to school, because she is a morning person. I wake to the sound of her singing to herself in her bedroom, or closing the bathroom door loudly, or gently knocking on my bedroom door — none of which jolt me like an alarm clock does.
I tell you this because I don’t want you to think I’m one of those “up at 5am, raring to go” people. Going on a hike in before work once a week is a flat-out miracle / blessing / gift from God, and I’m enjoying the heck out of it while it lasts.
Colorado is following the path of California (and I know this because I grew up in California). We’re continuing to see a massive influx of new people moving here, and our infrastructure is already 10 years behind where it should be for the current population. So, as it would naturally follow, Colorado hiking trails are starting to get crowded and trashed. (Check out my friend’s amazing organization, Keeping Colorado Beautiful, that’s doing amazing work to fix the latter issue. If the site doesn’t work when you click that link, check back — their server just crashed because they’ve had such massive traffic this week!)
This is one of the big reasons why hiking on a weekday morning is such a delight: There are very few people on the trails.
I’ve started noticing that this weekly hike changes the trajectory of my day. I feel calmer, more aligned and more productive on the day that I hike. At first I just thought “Oh, this is what the wellness experts are always talking about — exercising first thing in the morning is good for your mindset.” But in time, I realized there is more to it.
A morning hike — even a short one:
- Gets my body moving before my willpower runs out for the day
- Gives me a big dose of Vitamin D from the sun
- Soothes my soul with “forest bathing”
- Increases my gratitude for living here — even though this town can be a bit bananas sometimes, it has easily accessible natural beauty unlike anywhere else
I’m hanging on to this knowledge for when the hikes come to an end — and they will. The snow will start to pile up, the trails will get muddy when the snow melts, and it will get too cold in the early morning hours to bear being outside for that long. And when the hiking season comes to an end, I will look back at the list above and come up with something else that hits those notes. Because those notes are creating a beautiful song in my week, and that’s one thing I don’t want to give up.