Traipsing Alone

When the only footprints are yours.

I saw a meme online on New Year’s morning. It spoke of the value of a traipse through the woods hunting – whether one got one’s limit of game or not.

I like the word “traipse”. I do a lot of it. It means more or less to wander aimlessly.

One of my favorite things to do is traipse through the woods alone. I’m not a true “adventuress” like some of the gals out there. I don’t live in the Rockies and hunt elk on horseback while camping at elevation. But I do enjoy a good wander through familiar territory alone.

I was raised on a patch of 40 acres, and as a kid I would often go on a wander alone down to the pond, or just through the woods. I knew vaguely where I was, so I was never worried about getting lost. I just ambled aimlessly – listening to the leaves crunch, looking at bark and moss and deer poop and such. It didn’t have a “purpose” per se, but it did in the end serve a purpose. It was good for the inner “me”.

That inner me is still fed to this day by that kind of traipsing. These days I do more picture-taking than I used to. But photos can’t capture the smell of the fresh air tinged with pine, damp earth, and leaf mold. The photos also can’t record the “white noise” of the breeze blowing past my ears, or the chatter of squirrels, the scolding of jays, or the screaming of a red tailed hawk as he circles in the currents overhead.

Being alone is what facilitates the experience for me. When I’m with someone else – even my daughter – there tends to be conversation. Although that can be pleasant too, and it’s nice to be able to point something out and say “Isn’t that cool?”, I find that I miss too much when I’m with someone else. When I’m alone, I hear, I smell, I see, and I “feel” so much more. 

Maybe that doesn’t make sense to extroverts, but I’m not one of those. My inner life craves quiet, peace, and introspection. I didn’t get enough of that this past year. Because of certain financial pressures I worked too many days, and didn’t take nearly enough time off. I didn’t get enough woods traipsing, and by the end of the year I could feel it – I was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. 

This year I aim to fix that. I need to plan more alone time in the woods. I need to put it on my calendar and work it into my schedule purposefully. It doesn’t matter if I’m toting a rifle and actually hunting or just wandering with my woods revolver on my hip – I have found the experience to be too important to my mental and emotional well-being not to MAKE the time for it.

I’m an introvert – and a traipse through the woods is just what the doctor ordered!