A Week of Winter Walking: Day One

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Clifty Falls State Park

Clifty Falls in winter

Having a week off from teaching tends to make me introspective. This morning I lay in bed thinking how wonderful it was that I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow. This was followed, in no particularly logical sequence, by thoughts about how very unkind I have been to my body lately.

Oh, sure, I get a monthly massage and a chiropractic adjustment. Just this week I had a pedicure; my toes are quite well cared for. The rest of my body is a wasteland. I spend a great deal of time on the couch doing just what I’m doing now—writing. Bent over a keyboard. I don’t spend nearly enough time moving my body around and this is decidedly unkind.

I have a book of daily yoga meditations I bought at the beginning of this year, and one from a few weeks ago says, “Practicing yoga is a loving act of respect. In your practice today, treat your body with the respect you would give to my body.” I puzzled over this at first. What exactly did she mean? Why would I be more respectful to someone else’s body than my own? Then a light bulb went off. I would be more respectful to someone else’s body than I would be to my own for the same reasons that I am more forgiving, kind, generous and patient with other people than I am with myself. Duh.

So this morning I resolved to walk. Then I thought, what the heck, why not walk every day? As horrible as February is, why not go out with a bang? For all these reasons, I am officially declaring this the Week of Winter Walking. At the very least, it will give me something to write about.

This morning, I started in Clifty Falls State Park, one of my favorite walking spots. We walked from the Poplar Grove picnic area to the Lily Memorial overlook. Then we sat, watched a couple of hawks circling above the canyon, and felt the sun on our faces. I was reminded, as I always am when I head to the park, that there is something deep inside me that unravels only when I am in the woods.

I’d like to try a different walk each day because it’s one of those rare weeks when I have the time, so I’m soliciting suggestions. What are some of your favorite places to walk? Do you prefer urban or natural terrain? Flat or hilly? Deserted or busy?


  1. Clifty was gorgeous this morning!! I definitely prefer a woods setting, and since I love Clifty so much, and a glutton for punishment, I would say that rugged is my favorite. One of my favorite trails (and the one I ran this morning) was Trail 1 to the observation tower, and then down into the creek. I can’t wait for the day this year that it’s warm enough to take a plunge in the creek and then continue running, soaked!

    • You are a beast, Lindsey. I can barely walk the trails at Clifty without killing myself, let alone run them. Taking a plunge in the creek in the summer does sound nice, though.

  2. I just love downtown Madison for walking. No matter how many times I walk I always see something new that I never noticed before, love the river.

  3. The river at sunrise or early morning – nearly every morning. It’s never the same walk by the same river even though I pass the same trees. I will often chant while walking to keep my mind quiet so I can actually enjoy the walk rather than rushing through my day in my head or think about some perceived worry or problem. If I chant, I see and hear. If I think, I miss everything. Quite often, especially in winter, I never see another person. The river is good any time of day.

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