I early learned in Cascade glaciers and snowy mountains to use the “Rest Step”. Climbing included a slight pause with each step. One always needs to have enough oxygen. But also the grip, how a foot is planted, the body steadied. Then ready for the next.
These sunbaked lower mountains and hills that surround us here in Southern California don’t have snow. But the trails are not always friendly. There are erosion ruts and cross slopes that can make walking more a chore even than the ascending or descending itself.
And there are the pebbles. Our hills are decomposed granite with granite boulders poking out here and there. The decomposed granite, unlike trails elsewhere with layers of organics which cusion the sole, these trails are all mineral and the tiny pebbles act as ball bearings on the slopes.
And so that “Rest Step’ which in other conditions allows breathing, here it is steadying and traction.
I was raised in a tiny church community where I had the privilege at a critical time of a young pastor who loved the mountains. His parish of our two churches included many of us baby boomer teenagers and he clearly cared for us arranging hikes and climbs that took us into our Cascade mountains.
Sometimes as we hiked through tall trees or fragrant meadows Tom would break into song:
“I’m pressing on the homeward way,
New heights I’m gaining everyday
Still praying as I onward bound
Lord plant my feet on higher ground
Lord lift me up and I shall stand
On heaven’s table land
A higher plane than I have found
Lord plant my feet on higher ground.”
He did it so often it was his anthem for hiking and the happiness of life. To this day, the rhythm of hiking will send that song into my mind.
It’s a good sentiment. Religion, having a religion, isn’t worth much unless it makes me better. Aspiration, a “higher plane” is my goal.
And once again it came to me on the hill behind my house. Find your anthem, collect and treasure them as the soundtrack you can draw on for inspiration and comfort. Make these anthems the music of your life. Let them carry you through journeys of mind and memory. Be happy.
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