Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Went with Judy and her boyfriend to the mountains northwest of Beijing this morning. Judy had gone to the internet and signed us up with a hiking group that meets there regularly. There are several groups that go every Saturday. We started from the North Gate at 6:30, and took the bus to the foot of the mountain, about an hour away. It really was a beautiful day, and an invigorating hike--about 10 kilometers. Lots of friendly people, and they were very solicitous. They kept asking me "Are you OK, Lao Wang?"

The countryside around Beijing, especially on the north side, is blessed with a plethora of hiking trails. I have not been here long enough to become familiar with the names of each peak--I have only climbed a couple of them. I am really too busy to do this every week, like some of the folks on the trail, but I really enjoy the opportunity to get away from my work for a day and get a really good workout. In Arizona, I usually hiked the summit trails on Camelback or Squaw Peak in Phoenix. The trails here are quite a bit longer, which means that they are a bit more of a challenge, but not something you could do in a couple of hours on a Saturday morning. Here, it is an all day affair. We hiked to an area right near the summit, then headed down into a beautiful valley between the mountains, where we had our lunch, and a two hour break. They did an introduction, and had a picture taking session. Judy announced that I was going to sing a song for them. I don't know how she got this idea in her head, because I don't think she has ever heard me sing, but I didn't want to let her down, so I sang "The Old Rugged Cross."

I have never been an athlete. I guess it is partly because I have always been a bit of a bookaholic. One summer when I was in high school, I started a program of running two miles a day. After doing this for a few weeks, I got in my car and mapped out a 7 mile course. I ran the seven miles without stopping. After this experience, I asked myself, "Why am I doing this?" I couldn't come up with a good answer, so I gave up running and went back to my books. I don't know...maybe if I had nine lives I would spend one of them as a runner. But I only have one life, and I was born to run a different kind of race. So I guess I have to be content with a good fresh air mountain hike once in awhile. This will probably be my last day hike for awhile. I'm feeling winter.

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