Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Ritual of the Hike

Humans are hard-wired to favor rituals.  Predictability in our environment and actions calms our deep reptile fight or flight brains.  We feel somehow safer and more secure when we can anticipate and participate in that which is familiar.  With that science in mind(1), yesterday was part of a ritual for me:  The annual hike up Ricketts Glen State Park(2) with my mother-in-law.

I'll spare the deep philosophy on this one, and instead simply focus on the beauty of the experience.  If you live in Pennsylvania and have never been to Ricketts Glen, well, put it on your bucket list.  It's a real, genuine treasure. 

By way of staging, my mother-in-law and I hike up to the top of the park from the parking lot at its base.  There are two major trails to choose from, the Falls or the Bulldozer, and we've alternated from year to year.  Both trails start and end around the same place, and both can be a bit of a challenge when walking up, although I personally find the Bulldozer trail to be a bit more taxing.  This year we took the Falls trail, although I suspect future October hikes will almost always be on Bulldozer trail, mostly because it involves less climbing over and through rocks.

Anyway, enough of me, and on to the visuals.

At the beginning of the Falls trail.

Moss on a log.

Steps made from rocks.

Waterfalls...of which there are many.

Some of the waterfalls less dramatic, but never the less still beautiful. 

One of the better shots I took.

Orange mushrooms on an exposed tree root.

On a final note, one of the best parts of this annual event is the fact that I get to spend time with my mother-in-law, Elizabeth Rivers.  In addition to being a dedicated hiker, she's also a published author(3) who has a new book of poetry that will be released in the not too distant future.  It's rewarding to know that, even in my 50's, there are still people who inspire me.


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(1) See https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-rituals-work/

(2) You can read more about Ricketts Glen at - https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/RickettsGlenStatePark/Pages/default.aspx

(3) Find her book on Amazon at -
https://www.amazon.com/Colors-Universe-Elizabeth-Rivers/dp/061575743X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1540148263&sr=1-1&keywords=colors+of+the+universe%2C+elizabeth+rivers



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