It may sound a little crazy, but sometimes when I’m out on a trail I close my eyes for as many steps as I feel brave enough to take to heighten the 4 remaining senses that naturally get diluted by the 5th. For me, my purpose for hiking is not only to get exercise that both my dog and I need, but to simply take notice. To notice the things I hadn’t, before now, seen or paid attention to, the natural things in nature. By taking in the smells, the sounds, the feeling, I inch towards a mindset that keeps me in the present moment. I like to think of each hike as a walking meditation, a time to just let go and feel. Interestingly, in the brief moments that I have walked with my eyes closed, I have indeed noticed some interesting things. One is that in the summer time, the leaves of different trees make different sounds in the wind and that these are less obvious in the fall when they all begin their decline. While this may not sound like the most intriguing of discoveries, I can say that for me, it deepened my connection with nature and most certainly contributed to my goal of keeping my mind in the present. I have also discovered a much broader variety of birdsongs on these walks and that some of the less appealing “songs” didn’t belong to birds at all. Who would have known that frogs can sound like birds too? Without my sight, my breath sounds get amplified and my stride significantly slows. Breathing in the smell of fresh cut grass fills my nose, the wind teaches me about things I thought I knew, the sun warms on the back of my dark shirt. I no longer take my steps for granted, in that moment I feel accomplished.