Hiking as a strategic initiative

“This is the most beautiful place on earth. There are many such places.” — Edward Abbey

George Lakoff is one of my heroes. Among his many great ideas is the one of strategic initiatives. According to Lakoff, a major problem for progressives is that they want to fix everything, so they spread themselves too thin and lose effectiveness. He suggests that instead they focus on strategic initiatives, those that deliver multiple results in one blow.

As one example (maybe my favorite), a renewable energy initiative can help create jobs, ease global political tensions, and improve the environment, all in one swoop.

The author (center) with friends during a recent strategic initiative

The other day, as I was talking to a friend about hiking, I realized that for me it’s akin to a strategic initiative. A hike can be hard to schedule, and it tends to take up a large part of a precious weekend day. So, what makes it worth doing? For me, it satisfies a number of critical needs: beauty, nature, exercise, stress relief, fresh air, time away from computers, and social time with friends.

The first two, like a Venn diagram, overlap but have also have separate aspects. Often, hiking in the gorgeous settings of northern California makes me think of the lines quoted above. The beauty in this area is spectacular. Yet there’s so much more to nature than that. For those of us who live in an urban environment, being around grass and trees and wild creatures is restorative. A park or backyard are nice, but they don’t satisfy me the way a wilder place does.

Heading toward the Steep Ravine trail from Stinson Beach

And the benefits don’t stop there. The exercise you get going up and down the hills in the San Francisco Bay Area is significant, even aerobic. By the end of the day your lungs are full of fresh air, and being off the computer for the day is restful. Spending time with friends is a huge bonus; a chance to gather friends normally spread out around the Bay Area and hang out with them for hours is always welcome. (Hiking alone can also be wonderful, and meditative, so it comes with its own benefits.)

A typical section of the Steep Ravine trail

I’m thankful to live in a place that’s close to so many wonderful hiking trails, yet I find myself not always making the time to enjoy them. In our busy modern lives, it’s challenging to allow time for the important things. Like the progressive that I am, I tend to want to do it all—which can lead to getting very little accomplished. So the next time I’m considering whether to go on a hike, I’ll remind myself that it’s a strategic initiative.

8 thoughts on “Hiking as a strategic initiative

  1. LisaC

    Here here for hiking! It’s such a great way to catch up with friends–there’s something about nature that helps you think bigger thoughts than the usual chit chat. I’ve met and bonded with people on hikes I’ll probably never talk to again, but I know them now on a very deep level…

  2. Mark N

    Congrats on the blog, Rosie. I couldn’t agree more about hiking in the Bay Area. Last summer my brother and I really bonded over three day-long hikes up in Point Reyes.

  3. rkutler

    And as long as the fog lasts so much easier to hike here. Love the desert, but hiking takes its toll there. Just back from Big Bend where a short walk takes a great deal more planning in late may. SK and EK send love.

  4. celia

    I couldn’t agree more with you. I really miss those hikes with you guys, they were so enriching in every sense. I try to do my share here too, although it´s not nearly the same as there. There are some places in Catalonia, though, like one called La Garroxa, which has wonderful woods and perfect meadows. There I feel peaceful and happy.
    (by the way, great idea, your blog!)
    Un abrazo fuerte.


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