Months ago I wrote about my plan to resume my Walk to Mordor, a challenge I set for myself for the first time a few years ago and one that I enjoyed enough to commit to again. In the time between my commitment and the present moment many things happened, but a walking and hiking habit was not one of them. Last week I decided I’d waited long enough, I’d let myself become idle with the hundred thousand distractions available to a teacher in the summertime, and stepped out my door to take the first steps of this new-and-improved walk to Mordor.
The last time I walked it, I’d planned to re-read the majesty that is J.R.R. Tolkien’s work of literary genius, The Lord of the Rings, keeping pace in the book as I made my own way. I managed this only for about the first two hundred miles, after which I left the books behind for lesson planning, graduate reading, Netflix, and napping. Last time I blogged, but mostly in pictures and quotes, with very little reflection or original material. I walked the 1,776 miles there, but didn’t make the return journey, like I originally planned to. And it took me approximately four months longer than I’d hoped.
That’s why I refer to this as my new-and-improved walk to Mordor. This time around I’ll be keeping up with the literature, blogging with more than just pictures and quotes, and perhaps going not only There, but Back Again (only time will tell on this front). I’m also committing to more hiking in addition to regular walks and the nonstop movement that occurs during my teaching hours. Hiking is a unique experience to walking, and as one I enjoy but rarely make time for, this is incentive and opportunity for me to make time for it in my life.
With all that said, I stepped out my door last Thursday for a solo-hike on a trail surrounding a nearby lake and reservoir, that I had hiked once before earlier this summer with my mom. It was a gorgeous day for it; I felt safe in the woods, and as I reached the point I knew I should be heading back, I found myself wishing I could just keep going to see what was around the next corner, where the trail would end up, not wanting to turn around.
I did turn around, of course, being a rational and risk-averse person. I’m a Hufflepuff, not a Gryffindor, and despite my joy in the woods, I was well aware that turning my planned five-or-six-mile hike into a twelve-or-thirteen-mile one would become significantly less fun when I was out of water, hungry, lost, and footsore in my brand-new hiking shoes. So yes, I turned around, but not before languishing in the sensations of freedom, strength, and gratitude that surged through me there in the woods, and not before pledging to build the hobby, and turn myself from “someone who thinks about hiking” to “someone who hikes.”
These first steps to Mordor were good ones. I look forward to the hills, valleys, and mountains that the rest of them will bring me through.