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June 26, 2020. Real deja vu on Mt. Toby in Sunderland, Massachusetts, USA. Never hiked the Robert Frost Trail before. But I’d already been here a million times.

Sure, it felt a little or a lot like all hikes. You’re a tiny speck moving through space, across some vast landscape that’s been here forever. A vast forever that makes you understand you’re just passing through. Briefly.

But this hike really brought it home because I hit the trail an hour after I left my college reunion. Three days with faces I remember in places I remember. I love them all.

I was talking with Roger. Hadn’t seen him for years. Told him about the hike we planned. He noted it was in the Arnold Rhodes Natural Area. I said, yeah, I saw that on the map. Roger made the connection for me. Arnold’s his dad. The former head of the Forestry Department at a nearby university. Roger hoped to hike up later. To clean the inscription on a big rock. A memorial to his dad. Maybe we’d meet on the trail. Wow, man.

The Robert Frost Trail
It runs through a beautiful forest. Hemlock, birch, oak, hickory, sugar maple. Definitive New England woods. The Robert Frost Trail starts out gently, almost flat. Half a mile later it’s steeper. Another half-mile and it’s a lot steeper.

The trail diverges. Take the right fork, under the power line, if you want to go right to the top. No more or less traveled than the other way, but steeper. Takes a little more energy, a little more sweat. Click to see the big, detailed Google Map I made for you.

Just two miles to the summit. A thousand feet of elevation gained. Then up the stairs of the nine-story ranger tower for long, long views in all directions. To Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire and Mt. Ascutney in Vermont. Over the Connecticut River and its painterly oxbows. Across a thousand places I remember. From a new point of view.

A little more than 2.5 miles back down along the winding Roaring Brook Trail. The Brook was just whispering, but always there. And there we met up with Roger. We walked down to his dad’s rock, the one with the very clean inscription. We took a picture. One of those pictures that’ll probably be the image I’ll always see when I think of Roger.

Over the brook and through the woods to Cranberry Pond and back to the trail head. A little less than five miles round trip. Two hours. Not a lot of time and space. About a thousand calories burned. More than a thousand memories lit. You should go take a walk. On Father’s Day. Or any other.

Every Thing is Everything
A study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that adults in their 50s and 60s who walked 40 minutes three times a week actually increased the size of their brain’s hippocampus. That’s the area where memories are formed. And they performed better in spatial memory tests. Which might mean you’re less likely to get lost when you’re out walking.

Every Thing is Everything
Walking is the best possible exercise. The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk. But divert your attention by [appreciating] the objects surrounding you. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” – Thomas Jefferson

Although previous studies have found enhanced mood for up to an hour after exercise, this study found benefits for up to 12 hours following activity, compared to the resting group…Test subjects performed exercise at 60 percent of aerobic capacity, indicating that moderate-intensity exercise – like walking or light cycling – is enough to boost mood.” (“Boost Your Mood at Least Half the Day with Physical Activity”, American College of Sports Medicine)

“… modest levels of physical exercise during middle age increased the probability of successful aging beyond 70 years … [reducing] osteoarthritis, falls and hip fracture, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, cancer, obesity, diabetes…” Evidence Regarding the Benefits of Physical Exercise, Archives of Internal Medicine, JAMA

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

While you’re walking
Sip water frequently. Stay hydrated. Avoid wasteful, expensive bottled stuff. Filter. Fill up at home. Carry your own. I wear my CamelBak backpack with its built-in water reservoir and “bite valve” that’s conveniently in-my-face. Never drips or leaks. Look at the 50-ounce and 100-ounce packs. Something smaller: CamelBak‘s BPA-free bottle with the cool bite valve.

Cost-Benefit Analysis
The hike’s free. You get the immediate benefit of a great day. Making exercise a habit gives you the long-term benefit of great health. Tens of thousands of trails in thousands of local, State and National Parks in the U.S. alone. Use and support them.


Click to see the big, detailed Google Map I made for you.

There are places
The Walk That Ate Beijing
The Walk That Ate Venice
The Walk That Ate Time
The Trek That Ate (Organic in) Nepal

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