Well ok, lots of people do (or should) pay for therapy and lots more people could benefit from therapy but can’t afford it….and I am far from a person who doesn’t need therapy! All the more reason to look for other ways to meet a self-care need right? For me, getting outside and enjoying nature is as good as, if not better than, therapy and it’s relatively inexpensive. Win-win!
Daniel and I went on a 10 mile hike (doesn’t sound like therapy at all does it?) through Big Basin Redwoods State Park to go see Berry Falls and around halfway we quit calling it a “hike” and started calling it a “team-building exercise”. We refer to ourselves in the third person often as “Team Watson” but calling the hike a relationship-building exercise fits just as well. This hike had us working on our relationship before we left the house!
The making time to go together required a bit of “creative scheduling” and advance planning (let’s not forget about scheduling our dogsitter!). With my job as an RN, I’m obliged to work every other weekend. I have worked every other weekend for 10 years….just let that sink in a bit. That’s TEN YEARS of inflexibility with last-minute weekend plans, events missed, a general ball-and-chain on our social life and is frankly one of the aspects about my job that I’m resenting more lately. I don’t expect special treatment but on the other hand, I was hired part-time yet am still required to fulfill the weekend work day requirement of a full-time nurse. So in one month, a full-time nurse will work about 16 shifts (without overtime) and four of those shifts will be weekend days. I will work 8 shifts in the same month and still four of them will be weekend days. I should have read the fine print. First world problems I know. I should be happy to have a job, I know. At-least-you-get-paid-more-on-the-weekends (I call bullshit, I’ll give back the $16.00 in exchange for one less work-weekend, heck I’d pay more than that!). The creative scheduling was that I know that Daniel’s job is a bit more flexible with work-days so as long as he isn’t missing major meetings or not pulling his weight at the office, his job won’t care much if he switches working a Saturday for a Friday now and then. Daniel ran it by his boss and arranged to go in on my workday-Saturday and be off work the Friday before and poof, just like that, we increased our together days from four to five a month! That might not sound like much but when you only get to make plans with literally the single human in the State of California that you’re friends with just four times a month, weather permitting, you can see why I might be resenting my weekend schedule. First impediment (cleverly) navigated!
Second impediment: neither of us started out on the hike feeling particularly well. I felt like I was coming down with the crud and Daniel was nauseous enough to pull over to the side of the road on the way in. On a side note, I have been sick a LOT more often since moving than I ever was in Florida. I haven’t decided if it is because my immune system hasn’t adjusted to the “exotic” germs that this area presents or because I’ve been moderate to highly depressed since moving here and that is placing more strain on my immune system than usual. Either way, I was proud of us for still going out despite all that.
The real obstacles started on the hike itself. Who reads the trail map the best and who noticed the little tag-on sign saying some trails were impassable? Who is better at judging distances using the little graph at the bottom of the map? Well, we each have our forte. Physically we have our strong suits as well and this hike put them to the test. There were the usual obstacles – manageable but partially blocked trails where going under is the best way to go but easier for me (being short comes in handy). However, at one point a downed Redwood completely blocked the path (to be fair, we were warned in advance by a pair of nice guys we passed). In retrospect, both of the nice guys were roughly 6 foot tall and said it was “easy” but to the 5’2″ me, not so easy. Luckily I had a 6’2″ nice guy with me! I don’t think I could have safely made it over by myself and going under was not an option. There is a reason we own three step-stools. At another point, I needed Daniel to bravely cross the river balancing on the provided steel H-beam to prove to me it was possible. For a variety of reasons I’m a little better at making it up and down the long, steep grades than Daniel, so team building there required us to encourage each other along and to be patient. Making it all the way to the waterfall, enjoying some quiet time listening to nature and just having gone through the adventure together earned us points for Team Watson and we passed our team-building exercise. The completely guilt free dinner afterwards at our favorite German restaurant was a perfect way to celebrate our success!
Also, any excuse for beer and strudel is a good excuse. If you live close-ish to Ben Lomond California, or will be nearby and hungry, I highly reccommend Tyrolean Inn! (Five stars from me on Yelp, four overall with about 200 reviews).
Hike Details: From Park Headquarders/Parking lot we took the Skyline to the Sea Trail to Berry Falls, then the Howard King Trail towards the Mt. McAbee Overlook and back to the parking lot. Total miles: about 10. Elevation changes: Roughly 1000 ft to 400 ft (parking lot to Berry Falls). Roughly 400 ft to 1730 ft (Berry Falls to Mt. McAbee Overlook). Total time: about 5 hours, including breaks. Definitely allot at leat 6 hours for this hike!