Nothing fills me with gratitude and joie de vivre quite like hiking.
You see, I gave up hiking for years -- actually decades -- and then re-discovered it because the government of Atlantic City put up a sea wall that blocked all the sea glass from coming ashore.
Before the sea wall, I was content to spend a sunny day in winter looking for sea glass in Atlantic City. Who can blame me? Look at this view.
EXHIBIT A: THIS BEACH IS GONE
EXHIBIT B: THIS VIEW IS GONE TOO
I could have met the loss of the beaches with a sad, old lady sigh. Instead I shook my fist at the fickle finger of Fate and decided to collect waterfalls. This requires hiking.
EXHIBIT C: A VALUED PIECE IN MY NEW COLLECTION
In the process of hiking to waterfalls, I made a discovery that made me shake my fist at myself. Within a 2-3 hour drive of my home in Haterfield are miles and miles and miles of amazing hiking trails! Me, with my "I'm from Appalachia, I don't have time for the Poconos" attitude ... I almost blew it. I could have gone to my grave without ever bonding with my own back yard.
A few days ago, my daughter The Heir and I went on a hike to a rock formation that was once featured in Weird New Jersey magazine. Even though we got lost on the way to the park, we still got there in two hours. In other words, we could do a hike as a day trip ... a hike in the mountains.
EXHIBIT D: TRIPOD ROCK
Heir and I hiked to this rock. It's called Tripod Rock because it's a glacial anomaly. As in, you can't believe the sight of this freakin rock.
EXHIBIT E: OTHER SIDE OF TRIPOD ROCK
Yes, you're seeing that right. One big rock, balancing on three little rocks. This actually could be the work of some bored deity. Hard to imagine a glacier being that precise.
The hike to and from Tripod Rock was not even strenuous, and I only fell two times. Heir and I had a swell afternoon together, and we got to the rock before the steady stream of hikers who came in our wake. You see, Tripod Rock is only 30 miles outside New York City.
How did I get to be a woman of a certain age without knowing about all the hiking trails in the New Jersey Highlands? Why did I sneer like a snob at the Poconos? Alas, some time has been wasted.
On the other hand, I'm still fairly hale and hearty, and there's nothing like a bracing hike to make you feel hale and hearty. There is still time. I have found new mountains to climb.
EXHIBIT F: LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH
The bored gods uprooted me from the mountains of my birth and dropped me in a state that is the punch line in a million jokes. It has been up to me to make the best of this fact. It's getting easier all the time. All the time.