There’s something about a good hike that really frees the mind and opens the heart. Every time I hike, something about the gigantic open sky reminds me of all the goodness inside me.
When we’re running through the motions, scurrying around our cities and getting wrapped up in the melodrama of our personal lives, it’s easy to forget how happy we actually are. I am prone to bouts of melancholia, but when I’m out in nature, awash in fresh air under a warm sun, I realize that stress, frustration and anxiety are not my default states of being. They are symptoms of modern life. Openness, happiness, optimism, joy … these are the qualities of my true self, and that self often gets pushed aside by my fixation on worldly problems. Compared to the bright, engulfing, endless blue sky, those worries are trivial. Our true selves are not our situations and afflictions, but the light residing underneath.
Alright, enough with the self-reflective yogini stuff.
The truth is, this is one of those (very rare, in my opinion) situations in which words just don’t do a story justice. The photos speak for themselves. Over the weekend, my friend (and boss) Hayley invited me to go bushwalking at Bethells Beach, which is a rural, coastal region northwest of Auckland. It only took about 40 minutes to drive there, which I thought was pretty impressive, considering a 40-minute drive outside of Chicago lands you in, like, Skokie.
Skokie, or this?:
… I’ll take this. (At least for now.)
We had a bit of trouble finding our path, which was fine, as it gave us the chance to amble around the beach for a while and take in the scenery.
Hayley and I had to take our shoes off to wade across part of the beach where the tide had already rolled in. Hayley’s friend Rachel had worn hiking boots, smart girl that she is, so she didn’t have to worry about getting her socks wet. The water was pretty chilly, too – it’s winter here, so it was only about 15 degrees C outside (that’s about 60 F).
We wanted to climb this little rock, but unfortunately there was a locked wooden door barring our entrance.
That’s OK though, we found caves instead.
After probably an hour of searching, we finally found the entrance to our trail. And so began our bush walk.
It wasn’t the kind of thing where you have to physically cut the brush out of your path as walk (despite the fact that I’ve somehow earned the nickname ‘Machete Maggie’ at work, which I’m pretty happy about). It was essentially just hiking, complete with gorgeous views and fresh air.
When we reached the top, we stopped to picnic. We’d bought some figs, apricots, homemade baked goods and assorted types of hummus at the market before we left Auckland, so we got to take a breather and munch on that. It was really delightful.
And just in case you weren’t jealous of our artisan hummus trio (spicy peanut, chia and yogurt, and spinach-pumpkin seed), here are a few photos of our view:
I’ll leave you with that. And a fitting quote from one of my personal heroes, John Muir:
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”