The Essence of Hiking

When people imagine hiking, sometimes they imagine long, planned out trips that require time and effort to pack and plan. However, sometimes we forget the essence of the hikes in the first place: to spend time with friends and family, and to enjoy nature. Often times, we get too wrapped up in the planning and preparing that we forget to truly enjoy ourselves.

One day, while walking around my neighborhood I stumbled upon a sandy path, with few houses and a path resembling a trail. After this discovery, I went back home and soon returned with my family, ready to explore this trail. We journeyed along this road for a while, observing the greenery increasing in quantity and the evidences of civilization growing fainter and fainter. Walking along this trail for around half an hour, I slowly realized that me and my family were, in essence, hiking. We had all the elements: the trail, wildlife, people to accompany us, and the beautiful outdoor environment environment. In fact, that afternoon, I felt renewed, refreshed, like a new person. I let my burdens and fears fly away with the breeze in that hot summer day, and simply enjoyed nature.

Overall, that July summer day really opened my eyes on what a hike had to, or rather didn’t have to be. Hiking isn’t about the planning and preparing, or getting the perfect weather and perfect trail and perfect environment and perfect people to be with, it’s about just spending time outside, in nature, with people who truly matter to you. No matter what, there’s always a time to hike, and when there’s a will, there’s a way, so step outside, and go hiking!

The hiking trail I discovered was part of the Parker Ranch Trails, which eventually leads to Fremont Older (http://strollerhikes.com/location/fremont-older/). Parker Ranch Trails starts near the corner of Beauchamps Lane and Prospect Road in Saratoga, CA.

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Something New

Sometimes hiking with new people is just what you need. All too often, I’ve hiked with the same people: my mother, my sister, my family, and sometimes even my friends. However, never had I ever had the experience of hiking with strangers until recently, when I went on a Stroller Hikes hike on the Stevens Creek Trail with Lisa, a mother of three, whom I had just met that very same day. We were joined by one of her daughters’ friends, which made that a group of six in total.

During the hike, I was surprised to realize that I related more with Lisa, an adult, than her children, which struck me as ironic given I was a child only a few years ago. Their naivety and innocence brought a different perspective and even some humor into the hike, as the three girls walked, arms linked, laughing and talking in a carefree manner. They made me smile on many instances, like when they shouted, “Put a shirt on!” whenever a shirtless runner passed, or when they covered their ears and yelled when near a highway. I had almost forgotten the carefreeness and relaxedness of children, their open honesty and bubbliness, as I was gradually swept away with responsibilities and the work of high school. But during the hike, the children’s happiness was contagious, and I was reminded of my childhood once again.

I was also fascinated by Lisa’s youngest child, who was practically a toddler. At first he seemed rather shy, but soon he began to open up, laughing and yelling, “Hi!” to every runner we saw, who almost always responded back with a smile or a wave. He easily brightened up the hike with his adorable little laugh and broken up speech, and I found it entertaining watching him play with Lisa’s keys and his stuffed animal, learning his way around and discovering the ways of the world.

I walked alongside Lisa, and there was small talk involved, but my main impression of the hike was how relaxing and peaceful it was. Not often are we placed in such a calm, quiet environment, allowing us to truly be mindful of our surroundings, and seeing the girls laugh and talk, enjoying the shade and nature, talking with Lisa, and watching Lisa’s youngest child smile and laugh and play in his stroller, surrounded me in a bubble of happiness.

So, therefore, although I was hesitant about hiking with strangers at first, I completely suprised myself during this hike. Stroller Hike’s hikes are a great way to meet people from different ages and backgrounds, to talk, and just to enjoy the view. Now, did I come to this hike with low expectations? Yes. Were my expectations completely shattered? Yes. And would I go on a Stroller Hike’s hike again? Definitely.

The Stroller Hikes hike I had enjoyed is part of the Stevens Creek Trail (http://strollerhikes.com/location/stevens-creek-trail/). I started at the Creekside Park Trailhead on Easy Street, but you can also start at the Yuba or Sleeper Trailhead. Some hikes to try on the Stevens Creek Trail are the 8.5 mile “Old” Full Trail (http://strollerhikes.com/hike/1582-2/), the 1.3 mile Stevens Creek Trail from McClellan Ranch to Blackberry Farm and back (http://strollerhikes.com/hike/stevens-creek-trail-from-mcclellan-ranch-to-blackberry-farm-and-back/), and the Whisman Park to Shoreline Park trail (http://strollerhikes.com/hike/whisman-park-to-shoreline-park/).

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Toddler-Friendly Hikes Near Cupertino

For some, hiking is a great way to explore and push your limits; for others, hiking is simply a way to relax and tone down. For both, here are some toddler-friendly hikes near Cupertino:

  • Pichetti Ranch Open Space Preserve: This preserve contains several trails and is right next to the Picchetti Winery, so it’s easy to do a quick hike and then enjoy some wine tasting afterwards! The trails are well maintained, although very dusty; overall, it’s a nice place for a pleasant exercise or leisure hike. You’ll encounter beautiful scenery and possibly even some wildlife. For more information and possible hikes, visit http://strollerhikes.com/location/picchetti/
  • Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve: This preserve contains a farm called the Deer Hollow Farm with a variety of farm animals, which is definitely a bonus for young children. There is also a beautiful scenic spot called the Vista Point, where you can see almost the entire Bay Area. Although some hikes may be hilly, the hike is full of beautiful views of the hills and forests, the trails are surrounded by wildflowers, and lots of birds, insects, and other critters to enjoy with plenty of shade. The only downside is the preserve’s popularity; it is often difficult to find parking and the hikes are generally full of families and hikers. For more information and hikes, visit http://strollerhikes.com/location/rancho-san-antonio/
  • Blackberry Farm: Although trails from Blackberry Farm may be short, the trails behind Blackberry Farm are a personal favorite of mine. The trails are also near the Blackberry Farm swimming pool, which is a popular recreational location for children. Stevens Creek Trail has a wonderful paved section from Blackberry Farm to McClellan Ranch Park. Few are aware of Blackberry Farm’s trails, so they are often emptier than normal trails. Enjoy the gorgeous nature and wildlife and visit the historical ranch nearby. However, some trails on Blackberry Farm can get narrow and encounter obstacles such as logs, so carriers and backpacks are recommended over strollers. For more information and hikes, visit http://strollerhikes.com/location/mcclellan-ranch-blackberry-farm/.
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Taking the First Step

Sometimes taking the first step is the hardest.

This past week, after a week of unrelenting nagging and persistent hints from my sister, I finally gained the courage to take my first step outside for a run. Due to the frigid weather recently, I had spent most of my days the past week indoors, wrapped in a warm cocoon of blankets and lethargy.

However, as I took that first brisk step outside that day, instantly blasted by a gust of cold air, I felt lighter, physically and mentally. As I began to run, I gradually felt a sense of freedom from my current responsibilities, as I was allowed to temporarily mentally disengage, simply focusing on the pounding of my footsteps and the brilliant scenery of my neighborhood.

Thus, despite my initial reluctance, after finally taking that first step outside, I ended up running for half an hour, and overall ended the run with a satisfactory finish and smile.

So go outside, take that first step outside, and explore your neighborhood, a nearby park or hike a small trail; perhaps it will end up above your expectations like my run did for me!

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New Year, New You

The beginning of January marks the approaching end of the holidays, as we return to our everyday lives, whether it be school, work or managing children. However, although 2016 has passed, 2017 provides the chance for new opportunities, a chance to explore and discover more.

This year I’m attempting to become more active and go outdoors more, whether it be hiking or simply taking that first step outside. Although the frigid air outside may seem a difficult obstacle to surpass, I hope my determination will help me persevere despite the wind and occasional gloomy weather. Although it may seem a difficult feat at first, I believe that this goal will spark many more and continue to push me to challenge my boundaries.

So this year, try something new. Push out of your comfort zone, discover a newfound passion or interest, and explore beyond what is regular. After all, no matter the person you were in 2016, 2017 is a chance to start anew and redefine yourself.

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