Running down a steep path, every leap requiring my unwavering concentration, I dance over rocky steps and protruding tree roots. My heart pounds as tired legs thrum up the incline. I skip through a cool green forest, rays of golden light highlighting the disturbed dust. As whim takes me, I stop, close my eyes and listen to the forest’s orchestra of the birds and insects.

Although I hated it as a child, I now love hiking and try to go every weekend. When I don’t exercise, I feel pent up and can’t sit still. While it may be hard to give up even an hour of homework time with the mountain of due dates looming, the concentration and revitalization a hike rewards is worth it.

When it comes down to it, spending hours confined to a desk, distracted by thoughts of fun things you could be doing instead, is not much more productive than going on a joyous stroll under our great blue sky.

Returning to my desk with my legs slightly tired from the joy of hiking, I find myself more able to get some real work done.

In my experience, hiking not only lets me return happier and better prepared to concentrate on the endless work of a Paly student, but also gives me a moment to think.

The many benefits of a hike can be found in any of our local nature preserves, such as Foothill Park or the Baylands.

A forest hike is a gift, both for homework efficiency and enjoyment. Whenever I hurry by the green ferns on the forest floor, I am grateful to have spent a part of my day in the grace of the natural world.   v