Exploring the Usual

*This is a guest post by Traci Lehman of Walk Simply*

Snarling, majestic, grand and weathered the oaks surround us while we sit and enjoy the scenery. The little ones, meanwhile, are climbing the outstretched limbs. Two hundred years of dense wood hold the kids like jelly beans sitting in the palm of a hand. Click goes the shutter on my camera.

We've been hiking and playing outdoors together for 6 years my friend and I. We both love nature and hiking so a natural partnership was formed. It also helps that our girls, her two and my two, are the same ages. Even with that history she has never been to one of my favorite local outdoor spaces, Casper's Wilderness Park in Orange County, California.

Exploring the oak tree Photo by Traci Lehman

On the trail we meet a group of four elderly hikers. We pass in opposite directions and say our hellos. I observe they're dressed head-to-toe in outdoor gear. One gentleman, while looking at the kids, states, "It's good to get them started young." "Yes", we reply. I notice the binoculars around one of the gray-haired woman's neck. I find myself admiring these people for being outdoors together on this mellow adventure and find myself concluding they have been hiking for many years. I ask how their hike has been so far. Excitedly, the other woman replies, "We have seen ground squirrels and tree squirrels. "

I've never seen these people before, but the conversation is refreshing and I find myself wondering if I will be hiking this same trail in thirty years. I certainly hope so.

Hiking through the oaks Photo by Traci Lehman

We hike and talk some more. Poison oak identification is in full-force as we keep reminding the youngsters to stay on the trail. My friend, and future naturalist, identifies many of the plants that cover the park. Several hours later our adventure is over.

The day was fun. I spoke to random hikers and explored with friends in a beloved park. A new, unique impression was formed into a memory that I will likely recall for a long time.

I've hiked this park more times than I can count. It is one of my usual spots close to home that I escape to routinely. Even so, each experience here is not the same.  Sharing this tiny corner of our planet with friends made our usual spot fresh again.

Hiking and Exploring in the trees Photo by Traci Lehman

Don't take for granted your regular outdoor spots. Micro adventures can become grand adventures.

How to explore the usual?

  • Sit for longer than normal and view wildlife

  • Examine the seasonal changes such as leaf colors or spring wildflowers

  • Stop and talk to other hikers

  • Visit at a different time of day: sunrise or sunset

  • Bring new friends and share what you love and watch their reactions. This is a good reminder why you love this outdoor space, especially if it is not as new to you anymore. Break the routine.

  • Share your adventure with a child and view the world through their eyes.

  • Change it up. If you always hike the same route go in the opposite direction.

Explore the usual and you will see it is not always typical.

- Traci Lehman is a wife and mom who shares her walking and outdoor
adventures on Walk Simply to inspire others to go outside, enjoy the little things, and view our world up-close.

How do you refresh your routine adventures?
Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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