Packin’ in the Health
My friends and I (and Lucca, of course) went on a hike today. But this wasn’t just any hike. We hiked in upper Bidwell Park. Now for those of you who have never experienced Bidwell, you are missing out. This park–the second largest city park in the country–is amazing. There are endless trailheads, a huge creek with countless swimming holes (all named alphabetically by animal name…we swam at Bear Hole), beautiful trees, tons of wildlife, and of course, fresh air and endless natural beauty. As we walked single-file next to the creek trail, I thought about my life and of course, my health. And while I took in the beauty and serenity of that place, I discovered the Unexpected Health…in hiking.
You don’t have to be a health guru to know that hiking is healthy for anyone. There is nothing unexpected about that insight. But hiking has some hidden, some less-than-obvious, health aspects to consider.
Hiking, especially in a beautiful park like Bidwell, tends to be a long jaunt. When you want to explore the natural world, it is often a couple-hour excursion. You pack your water, some snacks, a camera, and away you go. We were no exception. We wanted to hike to one of the most popular swimming holes, and even though it was 90+ degrees, we were on a mission to make the trek. We arrived at the well-known water hole, swam around, jumped off a few rocks, and then basked in the sun for a while before heading back to the car. On the way back, Lucca started favoring her paws; in fact, she was having trouble walking. This brings me to the Unexpected Health insight: hiking can put people (and animals) in risky situations sometimes, which leaves open an enormous door for humanity to reveal itself…and giving humanity “center stage” is healthy.
By midday, Lucca (being the medium-haired black dog that she is) was hot, tired, and paw-burned. I know my pup very well, and I could tell she was not feeling good…at all. I also knew we had quite a journey back to the car in the hot sun and on the hot ground. Now, I like to think of myself as rather strong, but there was no way I could carry my nearly 40 lb. dog that far. Sensing my worry, one of my good friends swooped her up, threw her over his shoulders, and sweated his way—with her—back to the car. Imagine carrying a hairy, black, heavy, dirty dog, in the middle of the day, in the blazing sun…and it’s not even your dog!
When we get ourselves (or our dogs) in a bind, it’s amazing how the humanity of others can show up and unexpectedly support us. There was no way I could have helped my little furry friend today…but someone could. We do not always have to know all the answers or have the strength to ‘fight our own battles;’ that’s what friends, family, and loved ones are for. We are in each others’ lives to be the wings when we need a little help soaring, or the arms when we need to be carried. We are not meant to do this life on our own. We will fail miserably and get lost on our lonely ‘trailheads’ if we try. So the next time you find yourself in a bit of a bind, pay attention to the helpers who show up to assist. Do not doubt if and when help will come; it will! We just have to be willing to let others help carry our loads…or our dogs. –Until tomorrow, Jaime
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