One Step at a Time: Wisdom from a Hike in Joshua Tree

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If I had to choose my favorite element, it would be earth. I connect with it, especially when hiking—feet on the ground, my body mixed with the great expanses of sand and dirt dotted by brush and trees. The awe of the majesty, power, and beauty of the mountains. Joshua Tree has all this for me. When I’m there, I feel happy and whole.

So as we began our day there last weekend, I was filled with anticipation. I felt strong, happy, and excited. Seth, my husband, had found a 6.5 mile trail, the Panorama Loop, with a one-mile extension option to Warren Peak. Perfect. The weather was ideal, with the sun shining brightly and a few cloudy wisps floating by. Cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon. All set for a great day of exploration, connecting with nature, and spending time with Seth. And, as with any great day, I learned a few things.

1. You are always just where you are meant to be.

First we stopped at the Joshua Tree Coffee Company, because we’d really loved the coffee there last time. We were not in a particular hurry, but the line was loooong when we got there and didn’t seem to be moving. Still, we reminded ourselves that we were not under any time pressure, and so we waited.

We’d planned to pick up breakfast there too, but were surprised there were no food options, so we headed across the street to Natural Sisters Café. As we stood in line, I glanced at the door and found myself looking at a familiar face—one looking back at me in disbelief. I mean, the town of Joshua Tree is in the middle of nowhere! I was delighted to realize that the face belonged to a lovely former yoga student of mine, Naya Jones. We had some shared interests in making mindfulness accessible to all. The last time we’d met, she was preparing for a move. Now she and her partner were staying near Joshua Tree for a few months as they weighed some great options for their future. It was amazing to connect with her—her work really inspired me, and at that time, the connection gave me great motivation to move forward. And here we were again, renewing a connection that could lead anywhere—all because the coffee company had no food!

2. No matter how big the challenge, just put one foot in front of the other.

The hike was rated as moderate and I was in pretty good shape. However, as we began to climb, I struggled quite a bit. One reason was my tendency to walk fast—my usual pace is very fast, but that doesn’t work on steep inclines and switchbacks. I moderated my pace, but still, this hike was hard. I worked out regularly, but I hadn’t had many hills in my recent training, and man, was I feeling it.

I may have been a little dehydrated from a couple of glasses of wine the night before too. Who knows. I just wasn’t feeling as strong as I usually do. We stopped to eat a delicious orange we had pulled off a tree before leaving Palm Springs that morning. It helped, but I was huffing and puffing again after a few more steps. It never occurred to me to turn back or give up, but I was frustrated with myself. Then I stopped, looked around, and remembered where I was. I needed to take it all in. There was no rush.

I kept putting one foot in front of the other. When it was time to decide if we wanted to add the mile climb up to Warren Peak, I knew the answer was yes. I knew I could do it, just a little slower than I had in my younger days. And I knew that was okay. And I also knew one more thing…

3. Sometimes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is the only help you need.

Yes, I knew that before we headed up the steepest part of the mountain, I had packed a secret weapon. And that secret PB&J boost was exactly the fuel I needed to make it up the mountain. It was, of course, delicious, as nothing tastes quite as good as a solid PB&J sandwich halfway through a hike. I was ready. Yep, it got pretty steep; but I knew I could put one foot in front of the other and eventually I would be on top of the world.

4. Don’t let an obstacle or two keep you from what you know you need.

After we finished the hike, we headed back to the town of Joshua Tree. We had seen a sign at a yoga studio, Instant Karma, about a sound bath at 3 p.m. We finished our hike at 2, so we knew we would make it. Of course, then we missed our turn and added a little time to the trip.

Okay. After some winding around we were back on track. We got to the studio and found out that it was cash only. Seth went off the ATM while I set up our mats, blankets, and eye pillows. It was almost time for class, but there was still no sign of Seth. The teacher said it was no problem; he would wait for Seth. Who finally showed up, only to report that the ATMs around town were empty? I was feeling guilty because I really wanted to take that class. I didn’t want to give up our mats. I knew that if I promised to send the money that I definitely would, but this guy didn’t know me at all, so how could he know I was trustworthy? Just as I was about to let go of the idea of the sound bath, a new thought occurred. “Hey, can I Venmo you?”

Phew! Those vibrations filled us up, renewed us and relaxed us as only a groovy, incense-filled Joshua Tree studio sound bath could.

What a great day. These learnings hold true for all days, not just this situation, so consider them and see if you agree.

Don’t underestimate the power of that peanut butter sandwich either. We made more for our Southwest flight home, and they saved the day there too!isa

Lisa Feder, founder of Being Well Yoga, loves teaching Yoga and Mindfulness anywhere—studios, offices, and the rainforest! Her company, Being Well Yoga, brings Yoga on-site to the workplace so employees can work well and be well

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