Lessons Learned from the Great Outdoors – Pt 1
I just got home the other day from the Obesity Action Coalition’s 7th Annual Your Weight Matters national convention, this year held in Denver Colorado. It was very good to be back, after having missed last year due to falling ill at the last minute. Most of the events of the weekend are included with the very affordable registration fee, but they also host some additional paid events, such as the “Lunch with the Experts”. These are small groups where attendees basically pay for a box lunch, and the opportunity to get some close up contact with someone discussing a topic that interests them.
In the past I’ve hosted tables on advocacy, a table for guys attending, and a general welcoming for new attendees, these were all topics that the planning committee set up and I just happened to get asked to host. This year I hosted a table with a topic of my own to pitch, and it was accepted. The full title was Post-Op Wisdom: Lessons Learned from the Great Outdoors.
It’s a topic that had been percolating in my mind for over a year, going back to when I did a solo hike near Lake Cushman, along a trail that goes up to Flapjack Lakes. I didn’t quite make it to the lake, but did just over 14 miles in total in just under 7 hours that day… being solo I had LOTS of time to let my thoughts drift. And thoughts of how things I have learned about being on the trail were much like things I learned about this path to better health. And in the nearly two years since then, additional thoughts have continued to cross my mind and make it in to my list of notes.
So what I thought I would do is share some of what I shared with my table. The way I shared these ideas was through photos from my various trips and hikes and such. Hopefully it will get you to think about your own lessons, or how you can apply these ideas to your own healthy journey. If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments. I had over a dozen of these lessons to share and discuss with my table, and I’ll be sharing each of them in it’s own posting over the coming days.
So first up…
Have a plan, but be open to the possibilities.
I have leading an hiking/outdoors group on Meetup for about a year now, and was an event host for a couple years before that. I’ve hosted a lot of hikes, and every one of them begins with a plan. Where we’re going. When we’re going. How we’re getting there. What route we’re going to take. Things like that. I map out the trail, share it with the others going.
Planning is great. And there are LOTS of resources for helping you to learn to be better at planning. In some ways, goal setting is part of this as well. I’m not going to take the time to teach you about that right now, right here… I have blogged about it before though, so check that out if you want. What I will add to that though is even when following your plan, leave yourself some room to adjust that plan as things unfold around you.
The first two photos above, they’re from a trip that we were going to take in the Mt. Rainier National Park from Mowich Lake up to Tolmie Lookout (you can see the lookout in the top center of the second photo). When we got there, the group decided we wanted to check out Spray Falls. I didn’t know much about it, but went with the flow. It was going to be about a 4+ mile trip to the falls and back… which would turn a possible 7 mile trek to the lookout and back in to 11+ miles. All at some fairly decent elevations. But as you can see from that first photo of the falls, it was very much worth it.
But then, because of how things played out, we ended up not making it all the way to the lookout. Instead we stopped along the shore of Eunice Lake (the second photo), and had our lunch there, still a ways below Tolmie Lookout itself. And that was just fine. We still had a wonderful time.
We can plan for all sorts of things, and never truly know what the outcome is going to be. And on top of that, those things don’t always go as planned, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work out in the end. For example, the photo below is one of my all time favorite photos.
Mabry Mill, along the Blue Ridge Parkway in VA. I actually visited here before I had my surgery, in 2008. I was in the area for work, and one weekend I took a drive along the parkway and discovered the mill. I spent a lot of time wandering the grounds, taking LOTS of photos of the mill from many angles. Planning different shots out, if you will.
This particular shot, my favorite of them all, was one I took as I was driving out of the parking lot. I suddenly saw it from this angle, framed just “right”, and so I quickly put down the passenger window and snapped this shot. Sometimes the best things happen, despite our all our planning.
Next up, I’ll talk a bit more about when things do not go as planned.