Hiking in the Spring offers its own unique gifts — copious mud, budding trees, and the awakening of all the little, flying, biting, swarming insects that can turn a brief stop along trail into a very annoying thing, indeed — IF you let it.

We went hiking on Saturday at Wachusetts State Reservation, picked for it’s variety of relatively easy trails … Perfect for breaking in new boots! The sun was warm, there was a slight breeze, all in all, perfect weather for a Spring hike. Oh, but the bugs! I don’t even know what kind of bugs they were, some type of fly, but they were prolific! The moment we stopped to take a break, they descended, and let’s face it, we were hot, sweaty and probably a fly’s idea of a tasty treat.

My mind kept dividing its attention — one moment, focused on the trail, the next on the small bugs dive bombing into my eyes, ears, hair … they weren’t biting, they were just being persistently annoying. And of course, hiking being what it is, the moment you take your attention off the trail, you find your toe caught by a rock, or a root, or your own boot — either way, you’re stumbling and risking some type of injury.

When I stumbled and tweaked my ankle, I realized that I was missing the point of the hike. I had let my irritation of the bugs get in the way, my attention pulled from the very important next step. So I paused, took a look around, borrowed my guy’s second trekking pole to help with the weak ankle (after he offered it … thankfully. Not sure I would have asked, I must be honest! Ego, ego, ego … *shaking my head woefully*), and re-focused on the day, the trail and the hike … which was truly wonderful. I lifted my face to the sun, wished the breeze would pick up to help push the bugs from our immediate surroundings … and then it did. Something shifted, anyway. I don’t know if it was just the breeze, or a shift in our sweaty selves, or simply a refocus of my attention, but I found myself not completely distracted by the bugs. Even when one of the flying critters dive-bombed into my eye, I stopped, dealt with it, and then continued onward, and (finally?) allowed the hike to unfold as it would.

Once again, hiking and the concept of mindfulness managed to teach me a bit of a lesson. The hike was wonderful, satisfying, and challenging when my attention was focused on each moment, each step, each breath. The moment I let my attention be diverted by the flying — non-biting — flies, the hike became difficult and challenging. The reality was … they weren’t harming me. They weren’t causing me pain. They were simply a diversion to which I didn’t have to react.

So, despite the dive-bombing bugs, I had fun. I enjoyed my hike, the challenge of breathing deep as we climbed and descended. I enjoyed the company of my loving partner, as we both attempted to ignore the bugs and focus on the trail and the beauty of feeling our bodies move with the rhythm of our breath, and matching that breath to each step, surrendering and letting the hike unfold.

One Response to “Despite the dive-bombing bugs!”

  • Megan says:

    Replace “annoying bugs” with, perhaps, “annoying co-worker” and you’ve got yourself a daily coping tool!

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