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I had no plans to go for a walk today. Lisa and Faith were gone and that’s usually when I focus on getting things done.
Sometimes I’ll work on projects around home (which is the RV right now!) and other times I’ll work on a blog post for Route to Retire. For whatever reason, the idea of being alone usually means I’m going to work on something and get it checked off the list.
But today was different.
Today I decided I was going to take a little walk just because the weather was nice and those days are a rarity in Ohio as fall continues rolling on through.
Well, it turned out to be more than a quick stroll. It somehow became a 7.17-mile hike (plus the walk to the trail and back). That’s not too shabby for being alone and not knowing the area at all.
It became a great reminder for me of how important it is to get outside and to pay attention to nature. Not only is it good for you physically, but it’s great for your mind as well.
Here’s how I accidentally ended up taking a much longer walk than planned and why it was such a good thing that it happened…
Being alone in the woods started off a little uneasy…
We were spending a couple of weeks at a small local RV park called Countryside Campground in Mogadore, Ohio. This campground was just a place that would allow us to get our toes wet and figure out this RV’ing stuff before our big 9-month trip that’s starting next week. It also would give us a chance to test out the RV before we leave in case there’s anything wrong with it. And so far so good on both counts!
The campground is right alongside Mogadore Reservoir, which spans over 1,100 acres. There’s a trail off one end of the RV park so that’s where I decided to do my walk.
My first mistake (or so I thought) was that once I got to the trail, I realized I had forgotten my fancy Lenovo Thinkplus $9 earbuds from Temu. They’re no Beats or Bose headphones by any means, but they do the job and I’m happy with ’em!
But I was already probably 5 minutes or more away and since I didn’t anticipate the walk being too long, I decided not to go back for them. This wasn’t a decision I was happy about… at first.
I did remember to bring a bottle of water, which turned out to be a smart move for this trek. The best part was that I got to use my water bottle belt carrier! This thing was also from Temu for about a buck and for that price, I had nothing to lose. It works great and I can unclip it with one hand when I need a drink!
In case you haven’t guessed, I’m now all-in on Temu. We’ve ordered a ton of stuff now for our RV trip from there and haven’t been let down… the prices are so incredibly cheap! If you haven’t tried it out, you can read more in my article, Is Temu Legit? Here’s How I’m Saving Big With This Fun App, from this past spring.
If you’re a new user here’s how to get a 50% off discount:
- Download the Temu app on Android or Apple
- Within an hour of creating your account and downloading the app, type the code fav76689 right into the search bar in the app to search
- Place an order (I believe within 24 hours) to get your 50% discount!
Other than that, I wanted a hiking stick once I hit the trail. That could help with my knee which has been a little goofy lately (stupid getting older!). Plus it never hurts to have a heavy stick should you come across someone shady – you just never know.
I found this one as soon as I got on the trail and it was perfect with a nice “y” in it for the bottom of my hand to rest in as I walked…
I’m not used to being alone hiking. I almost always have Lisa and Faith with me, which is great. I did do an awesome backpacking trip several years ago, but I had a good friend along for that. And even when I climbed Volcán Barú, I still had the guide with me.
So I didn’t really think of it until I started this hike but being alone in the woods on a trail is a little unusual for me. Throw in that I try to stay aware of my surroundings whenever possible and I was a little cautious at first.
Without having anyone to talk to or music to cover up the noise, I found myself looking over quickly every time a squirrel or chipmunk crinkled leaves when running through the fall brush.
In fact, right near the start, something rustled right beside me on the trail. I quickly grabbed the stick with both hands, jumped sideways, and took up a major defensive pose. In my head, it probably looked something like this…
If anyone had seen it though, there’s a possibility they might disagree with how ninja-like I was.
Stupid scary chipmunk!
Enjoying the time alone with nature
But it was interesting how quickly that edginess subsided. Soon, the sounds of nature around me became more relaxing and the rustles in the leaves actually became comforting (I swear there had to be a thousand chipmunks out there!).
Being alone and not having earbuds in while getting in a little exercise is unusual for me. If I’m not with someone else on a walk, I have to be listening to some music or something, right?
Apparently not. Once I got rolling, there wasn’t one time that I missed them. It was fun to just hear the sounds of nature all around. Besides all the rustling of the squirrels and chipmunks, some places had the birds busy chatting up a storm, too. Some were also really quiet chilling out…
And, of course, there’s the fall. Most everyone who knows me knows that I can’t stand the winter and the cold. That’s the biggest hurdle for me in Ohio. But the fall… it’s hard to beat how beautiful that is in northeast Ohio. The landscape completely changes with all the fall colors and it’s just amazing.
Then there was this strange sight to behold…
I’m sure there’s a backstory as to what this is about. Maybe the teddy bear is a memorial to someone or something. Maybe it’s a geocache for others to find. Or possibly it was just put up for the heck of it. Whatever the case, it was interesting to come across on my hike.
And finally, being alone means truly being alone with your thoughts. I’m not going to say that I solved life’s problems while out there, but just having time to think without distraction can make a huge difference in your perspective on things.
So, I just walked, listened, watched, and thought while at peace.
Taking a cue from Forrest Gump
Remember that scene in Forrest Gump where he suddenly started running and kept going across the country (and back)…
Such a great movie!
This was so not that and I definitely wasn’t running (I’m no runner unless I’m being chased!). But it did remind me of the movie as I just kept walking and walking. I likely would have kept going a lot further, but I did the math and knew it would be dark before getting back if I didn’t turn around when I did. I didn’t want that in an area I didn’t know very well.
So I turned around and headed back.
When all was said and done, It ended up being a nice hike of 7.17 miles…
PS You can find me on Strava at https://www.strava.com/athletes/jimisawesome if you want.
I’m not gonna play either – my legs felt like mush the next day, but it was still worth it!
The importance of being alone with your thoughts on a walk
So what does all this mean in the grand scheme of things? Will being alone on a walk with just your thoughts change your life?
Maybe… maybe not.
But aiming for life-changing in this simple task isn’t what we’re after. Taking long walks by yourself accomplishes many things but two of the most important are:
- It’s good for your body
- It’s good for your mind
What else can you ask for? It’s free and relatively easy for most of us to do. Having a chance to clear your head and improve your health simultaneously is the deal of a lifetime!
That’s not enough for you? Okay, well in the Prevention article, 15 Major Benefits of Walking, According to Experts, they discuss some incredible advantages to walking regularly and point to documentation backing it up. Here are some that surprised me:
- Improves heart health
- Reduces your risk of chronic diseases
- Alleviates joint pain
- Stimulates your digestive system
- Kickstarts your immune system
- Protects your bones
Pretty impressive, right? It’s worth reading the article to see the others.
Look, we all know that walking is good for you. We also all know that taking some time to be alone with your thoughts can be beneficial as well. There shouldn’t be any surprises there.
So why don’t most of us make these things happen? You can use time as an excuse (I don’t have time in my day for that), but that’s just a cop-out. In reality, it’s just a matter of priorities and what you consider more important than something else.
I didn’t do a great job of walking enough while I was working. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it a priority. But I promised myself that I would make exercise a priority when I retired so I felt compelled to make it happen once I left the career train. I’ve nailed working out for about 5 years now – I was doing 5 days a week but recently decided to scale back to 4 days a week.
And I was doing a great job walking when we were living in Boquete, Panama (it’s easy when it’s 75° every day!). I even made it happen in the winter once we moved back to Ohio – several days a week I’d walk about 1.3 miles just in the apartment halls.
But things have been so hectic this past spring and summer with moving out of the apartment, buying the RV, and working on getting everything ready for our trip. I’m still getting in some good walking but a lot less frequently.
Being alone on this walk though reminded me how important it is to get back to being outside more. On the plus side, we’re about to kick off our massive road trip and a lot of what we want to do is hike on it. I’m sure I’ll get more walking in than I bargained for!
However, I’m probably going to take some time to enjoy being alone on some walks without the family. Clearing your head and taking in what Mother Nature has to offer has proven to be extremely therapeutic!
What about you – do you enjoy being alone while on long walks? Do you ever take a walk without having earbuds in?
Plan well, take action, and live your best life!
Thanks for reading!!