At the New Life Hiking Spa, everyone gathers outside the front door and the staff announces the hikes each morning. They’re categorized into “Nature Walk,” “intermediate,” and “Advanced.” The Nature Walk being mostly flat, a non-challenging surface to walk on (like a gravel road), and only about 4 miles or so in distance. The Intermediate walks have more ups and downs, and may require a little scrambling over rocks. The Advanced hikes are more vertical and are on “unimproved” trails.
While I might have opted for the Advanced or Intermediate hikes, I was there more for the company of my friend and less for the physical challenge, so I was more than happy to do the nature walk. Plus, I wanted to shoot and I figured I’d have more opportunities on the nature walk than on an advanced hike.
This happened to be the day for the most difficult Nature Walk of the week. It had a long, slow climb in the middle of it. This worked to my advantage. I got to take my time shooting because the group wasn’t moving as fast as they would have been on a flat trail. I had time to shoot and then run to catch up to my friend.
This was even more perfect than I realized at first. I got a great workout by running hard to catch up (when I say running hard, I mean any attempt to run on my part is hard–I don’t run fast or far or at all if I can help it). We would walk along together chatting until the next photogenic subject appeared.
I would have hated being on an advanced hike and feeling like I was holding other people up every time I stopped for a shot.
Plus, the road we walked was lovely. We were afforded many views of the mountains and lots of pretty open fields full of wildflowers. The only slightly traumatic part was the graveyard near the beginning of the walk. We had to wonder what kind of message they were sending us by not only walking us past the graveyard on the way out, but stopping there for our snack break on the way back. I loved it for the photographic opportunities it provided, but it’s a little odd to snack amongst the dead.
We extended the hike by going past the trailhead to another trail that led up a hill to a lovely view of the valley below and mountains in the distance. One of our fellow hikers was starting to worry us with his heavy breathing, profuse sweating, and red face. It was hard to believe the hike was that much of a workout for anyone, but it was a pretty good uphill, I guess. We were concerned he had heat stroke. In the end, he, along with the rest of us, did survive and we left no one in the graveyard.