The Restorative Power of Hiking, and Water

Don’t you feel even a little bit better merely looking at this photo?

After a long drive, one of the first things I plan on doing the next day is seeking out the hiking opportunities. For starters, because I see it as “restorative physicality.” Sitting for 14-some hours, and in a particular way while driving, jacks up my spine, my neck, my shoulders, my thighs, and my glutes. But of course, it’s also restorative mentality. Whenever I’m in nature, and hearing the sounds of the birds, seeing the bare trees, walking around the water, under the bluest of cloudless skies, that feels good mentally. Hiking is recalibrating for the body in the most holistic sense.

But also, I have certain things I like to do whenever I travel to somewhere for an extended period of time: Seeing what hiking that place has to see their sights and hear their sounds; trying the local cuisine; and of course, my favorite, going to a museum and/or a local shop (I tried to go to a local bookstore yesterday, but they were closed for renovations; womp womp). Last time I was in the Dallas area, the museum I went to was the George W. Bush Presidential Library. One of my bucket list items is to hit up every presidential library there is. I’m sure I will share in a future post what my historical item ends up being this time around.

Yesterday, on the cuisine front, I tried this bad boy for the first time:

I didn’t realize there was quite the competition between this and In-N-Out.

It was delicious, and lived up to the mantra of “everything is bigger in Texas.”

Back to the hiking front, the first hiking potentiality that spoke to me was Mesquite’s Butterfly Trail. Volunteers maintain this butterfly trail to ensure the habitats of not just butterflies, but the flowers that enable them, and the insects that come along with them. The trail is part of the larger ecosystem, if you will, of the Bruton Park – Travis Williams Greenbelt System in the city.

Pretty neat to have a dedicated Butterfly Trail.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best time for a butterfly trail. I don’t know anything about butterflies and flowers, and when either are “in season,” and apparently, the monarch butterfly is the predominant species of butterfly, but from my Googling, it seems they come through October to November? Or maybe the summertime, too? Either way, the beginning of April was certainly not butterfly time or flower sprouting time. The designated areas, with signs indicating that they are protected areas for the butterflies and flowers, were overgrown grassy areas featuring no flowers and no butterflies.

Too bad I can’t come when it’s really blossoming!

Still, the trail was nice.

A game of, “Where’s Waldo?”, but here’s a shot of the only butterfly I saw!

My thing with hiking, though, is I like to get submerged in nature. To be enveloped by it. To be deep enough into nature that I no longer hear the passing vehicles, or see suburban homes. Unfortunately, the Butterfly Trail didn’t offer that, either. However, the birds and the insects were still singing to me (yes, just me, obviously) along the trail, so that was nice!

Another area of frustration: Despite the best efforts of Mesquite — they have a “Clean Mesquite” initiative — it’s frustrating how much trash somehow still accumulates in nature. What’s wrong with people? To some extent, I think that’s a byproduct of our trash collection system. Apparently, we still haven’t figured out a way to collect trash without it blowing all over the place. That happens near my home as well. But I don’t think all of the trash I saw along the hike can be attributed to trash collection. So, again, what’s wrong with people?!

Ahhh.

The second hike I did, because the butterfly one took less than 30 minutes to the end and back again, was also part of the Bruton Park – Travis Williams Greenbelt System. This time I used the awesome AllTrails app on my phone to find it, particularly because I wanted to make sure I picked one close to where I already was. It’s called the Valley Creek Park Trail.

Folks, it was gorgeous. The what I assume was man-made ponds were stunning and calming and lovely and beautiful to see the ducks just having the time of their lives zooming and walking and flying around it.

Check them out:

I love how the other one comes zooming over to the two on the right.

Hiking is restorative physically and mentally, but being near water of any kind, whether it’s a man-made pond as here, a lake, a river, a stream, or the ocean, is something next level for me. It’s almost meditative. It’s as if I can feel my brain floating in its cerebrospinal fluid with peak satisfaction.

There was one smaller man-made pond to walk around, and then a giant one. Each one had so many ducks. It was fun to hear them. To see them with their cute little webbed feet waddling from the grass, across the pavement, and back to the pond. You know, for such seemingly simple creatures, these animals can walk (waddle!), swim, and fly. Rather marvelous.

Again, like the Butterfly Trail, it would be a stretch to even call it a “hike” since you’re on a paved path and it’s so simple, but simple isn’t bad. It worked to make me feel good.

Please enjoy some more of the photos I took!

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