March 14, 2012

Escape to Which Mountain?

By Andrew at 8:47 AM

One way that I enjoy relaxing after a long day at work is to go for a hike at one of the various parks in the area. Most of the parks that I go to have miles and miles of trails, many centered on or including terrain from a “mountain.” Since I am from a rural area, and attended college in a state known for its agricultural pursuits, living in the middle of what amounts to a suburb right outside of a major metropolitan area is a new experience for me. That is why I enjoy even a limited escape from the noise and bustle of the city.

Growing up, I seldom exercised just for fun. For instance, instead of working out or going for a run, I would be training for waterskiing or mowing and other such manual labor. So when I went to college, I had to pick up activities to keep me active between studying and work-study jobs, which generally did not involve much physical exertion. I ended up swimming on a regular basis since there was a pool initially on campus but then about a mile away at the local YMCA. In addition to swimming, once the closest pool was at the YMCA, I started running to the YMCA, swimming, then running back to campus. Eventually, I participated in a physical fitness class one January during which we ran up a small mountain each morning to begin our daily routine. While I was in the Chicago suburbs, I lived less than a block away from many miles of running paths, which I took great advantage of on a daily basis. I would usually run in the morning, ride my bike to work on the paths, and ride my bike to explore for miles and miles on the weekend.

After I arrived in California, I began exercising by swimming at the club at work and running on the loop around the office park. There are only so many times I can stand to run around in circles, so I then discovered a series of little parks throughout the peninsula where Redwood City lies. The first park I visited, Edgewood County Park, is the closest to my apartment. I enjoy the trails it has, one of which includes a route over a “mountain” right in the middle of the park, but it can be rather busy on the weekend – not what I am looking for in a getaway. Another park I have visited several times is Wunderlich Park, a park that has a more extensive system of trails than Edgewood has. Unfortunately, I need to be on the lookout for horses here, since the park includes stables and hosts horseback riding on the trails. More recently, I have visited Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space, which seems to have the primary characteristic of going straight downhill from the parking lot. That is fine, but I always find myself regretting the distance downward that I traveled on my way back up the hill. The largest park that I have visited so far was El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space, an expansive park that I just visited on Friday. This park, as well as Purisima, has wonderful views of the ocean from various locations on the trails.

You may wonder what my point is through all this! I am of the opinion that to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I need to be well versed in a variety of pursuits. Since I do spend so much time sitting at a computer at work as well as after I return to my apartment, exercise is one way that I can “change things up” a bit. In addition, I find that exploring nature is a great way for me to clear my mind and recharge. Plus, exercise is a great way to keep healthy, especially through extended hikes and other such aerobic activities. And what a better place to participate in outdoor activities than in sunny California?

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