Today I slow hiked.
I don’t usually. If anything, I speed hike. Always driven to see what’s around the next corner, climb to the highest ridge, and find the next bit of beauty around the bend. Downhill for me has always been an invitation to speed up and run. After all, it doesn’t take much effort and if you are nimble you can bounce from one rock to the next with nary any trouble.
But today I learned the joy of slow hiking at Mount Rainier.
It began as any other hiking adventure. Packed lunches, picked up the guest, and headed out on the Burroughs Mountain Trail. But this guest was a little different. She was absolutely charmed by the mountain and stopped every ten feet to take photos. So my usual marching walk slowed. My purposeful hunt for the next corner became a meander and I began to stutter.
And what came next was beautiful.
In the slow moments, I began to hear the dull roar of the faraway river flowing from the base of the glacier, ever constant. I felt the slight brush of a cloud as it passed over us as if a ghost reached out and touched my arm. Brief, gentle.
I could feel my toes through my merino wool socks and sturdy hiking boots hit the ground. I could distinguish pebbles from rocks from dirt. A small poof of dust escaped beneath each slow foot fall.
The smell of fir, snow and wildflowers delighted my senses now that I was breathing slowly. I could hear the call of birds whereas before I could only hear my heartbeat ringing in my ears.
I wasn’t bent over my hiking poles as usual, so instead I looked up and found moss draped across the noble firs like tinsel draped on a Christmas tree.
Slow hiking was magical.
I felt the warm kiss of the sun upon my brow instead of the usual trickle of sweat running down my temples.
I hear laughter over the roar of the river. A group behind us is being bewitched by a fat chipmunk.
I hear, “Smile like the mountain is out,” carried down the trail as friends gather for a photo.
Yes, I think I like it slow. While waiting…breathing…being… a movement catches my eye and I see a fat, furry marmot grazing in the alpine tundra. I wouldn’t have noticed him before. Would have just blown right by, oblivious.
And over all of us; slow, fast and in between Mount Rainier watches us. Bemused no doubt by us. What’s the hurry? I’ll be here long after you’re gone, the mountain says.
Want to experience the joy of slow hiking Mount Rainier? Click below for our hiking adventures on Mount Rainier.