I was hiking at Hazen today following the washes again. I realized that I really like water and water flows. This isn’t really a new realization, but more of a deeper thought. I usually watch water flow or listen to it. But the last few hikes, I have really been paying attention to what water does to the desert mountains.
I hike a ways out and follow the washes back as close to my car as I can. Today I was thinking about the way that the water moved and the destruction it can do. Then I was thinking about my walking in conjunction with that. I have started to be able to look ahead instead of down. (I was told that this would eventually happen.) In my looking ahead, I recognized that like water, when the going is smooth, I look out in front of me a ways. When the water is smooth, I look out toward the horizon or to where the water moves out of my view. But, when the going gets difficult my focus shifts to a narrow spot right around me. With water, my gaze also shifts to a narrow location when it becomes rough. I like to see what is happening, just as I notice the finer details when I am looking in a focused area.
Also like water, I follow the trail of least resistance. I don’t blaze a new path unless the one I am on becomes too difficult for me to maneuver around. Water will go where it can before breaking a new path. I too flow quicker when heading downhill letting gravity direct me. Water only destroys the land by following its own path over and over again unless a new path has to be created because there is too much or because it must make a new one. Hikers also follow a trail repeatedly with minimal impact on the land unless there is something that makes us move another direction for some time. Most of us understand that we can destroy the land around the trails if we are not careful.
This is in contrast to other users of the land who don’t understand erosion or choose not to care. They take their motorized vehicles and push through wherever they wish creating new trails all the time. They also break down the brush and other formations. This creates new trails and paths for the water to follow thus bringing more destruction that would not have otherwise happened.
When out on a trail, it is important to limit our impact on the earth and the landscape as much as we can. We should hike like water.