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They both happened out in nature. I got into hiking when I lived in Asheville. The mountains have wonderful inviting trails; Florida wasn't like that at all. You'd run into a swamp whichever way you went. I walked in the woods in my neighborhood and went on mountain hikes with my dad. Scouting ramped that up. I went on more hikes and did a little backpacking. Right before Kenya I went on the ultimate Scouting backpacking trip: Philmont. My hiking and my spontaneous meditations went hand-in-hand. It was early in the process, but I was on my way to self realization via walking and spontaneous meditation.

It all went up in smoke when we moved to Kenya. I lost all the magic I'd found before out communing with nature, hiking and talking to the fairies. Booze and pot shut down my spontaneous meditations for good, and there was no inviting hiking. Nairobi sits on a treeless plateau, flat or gently rolling. There are no mountains or even hills to go explore. I tried my hand at rock climbing for a while, with a guy I met who knew the ropes. He was an interesting character, physically a dead ringer for Alfred E. Neuman. Nobody liked him. But he had a car and climbing equipment, and he was kind to me. We started going to the Frog Cliffs regularly to climb. But I got freaked out when we were swarmed by African honeybees halfway up a route; it killed my interest in rock climbing. My new interest was recreational drugs. I was getting high for real now, or so I thought; I had it all backwards. No hiking for me all through my time in Kenya, and then college and life in Tallahassee. I forgot I'd ever had spontaneous meditations.

In the morning my dish tub had a quarter inch of ice on the top. Once I recovered from my big fall, TH came up with a new plan for me, an early version of his get manly program for the Bejurin the Wuss. I liked this plan, and my wisdom did not object. TH wanted me to live for a year in a mountain cabin somewhere near Boulder. I went exploring in the foothills and found just the place: an old miner's cabin in Jamestown, a tiny hamlet northwest of Boulder. It was a real log cabin with all the amenities: no insulation, drafty chinking, a tiny woodburning stove for heat, and no plumbing: I had to haul water in a bucket. Oh yes, a classic old outhouse. Elevation a little over seven thousand feet; it got cold in the winter. I'd bank my little stove as best I could, but it only lasted half the night. I scrounged the hillsides for firewood. Most of what I found was slash, which I cut up with a pruning saw. No chain saw yet. The cabin was on James Creek, and an old mining road followed the creek way back up into the national forest, eventually forking off from the creek to connect with a road leading to the Peak to Peak Highway just north of Ward. About 8 miles with a nice easy slope, just 2,000 ft elevation gain. I became intimately familiar with that trail and many others that forked off it.

TH didn't just encourage promiscuity; he flat out told me to sleep around. While I was living in Jamestown I became fascinated by the idea of through hiking. My least favorite part of a backpacking trip was having to turn around and hike back out; it seemed anticlimactic, a letdown. Heading back to the grind. I'd done a couple of trips with a buddy where we took two cars and left one at each end. That ended up being an awful lot of driving. Plus now I was on my own; spending most of my time alone was a key part of my rustic cabin regimen. I could have a visitor every other weekend, women only. When I had a weekend guest we spent too much time snuggled up in a dark cabin with tiny windows to go backpacking.

I looked legit in context. I went on two marvelous solo through hikes by hitchhiking: one that summer and one that fall. I started close to home in the Front Range. I wanted to leave my car at the cabin, so I geared up for a week of backpacking and started hitching up Overland Road, which was dirt back then, toward Peak to Peak Highway. There weren't many cars on that road, but the people who drove up it were fairly likely to pick up a guy with a big backpack. I made my way north along Peak to Peak and hiked a route south of Long's Peak that went over the divide into North Park; I came out at Grand Lake. Then I hitched back home via major highways; lots of waiting with my thumb out on those roads. Now I really had the bug.

I adore fall in the high Rockies. It's brief. The aspen show is usually over by the end of September. But while it lasts, oh my. For my fall through hike I walked from Aspen to Crested Butte, and it was glorious. It's about 36 miles, starting at 8,000 ft and going up to about 12. I headed straight for the Maroon Bells, walking through wonderfully mature aspen groves. The weather was kind; I got nothing worse than lots of frost on my tent and one day of bitter cold blowing snow up at whatever pass that was. When I arrived in Crested Butte it was a little like dropping into Barcelona in the middle of La Mercè: I arrived the day The Grump got burned. Old hippies in CB put on pagan festivities every fall that culminate in Burn the Grump; read all about it. It was charming, and a lot less chaotic and bewildering than La Mercè. Not that I'd want to go again, to either. But back then that kinda thing was kinda fun.

Walking meditation has been a key element in my life ever since. In 2006 my wisdom spoke and I began making my way to full connection with my wisdom. The first thing my wisdom guided me to do was lose weight by changing my diet and walking. I started by taking long walks from home every day after work, and longer ones on the weekend. I soon added camping trips every other weekend, car camping at first and then I got a VW van. I would drive to a state park campground and walk from my campsite, hours every day. The extended low impact exercise of walking helped me get the weight off in a slow, even process. Walking became my main form of meditation. I let my wisdom guide me as to where and how to walk.