I've spent a lot of time outdoors in my area. A lot. Especially when I was younger I was outside more than I was inside. And now that I'm older my main hobbies are hiking, kayaking and photography. All of which force me to explore.
This weekend I was pleasantly surprised to have seen a few new creatures for the first time. I believe I saw them because I was paying more attention than I have been lately. Usually I'll go on a hike with tons of photo gear, my drone, or a goal of covering a certain trail or distance. However, this weekend my goal was to observe my surroundings and it paid off.
During my hikes I saw an Indigo Bunting, a Scarlet Tanager, and a Snowberry Clearwing for the first time. Not to mention the deer, rivers I crossed, ticks I flicked off, countless birds and insects and blooming plants.
Where normally I would have covered 13 to 20 miles during my hikes I only covered just over 6 miles. But I saw a lot more wildlife, understood where I was physically more than usual, and enjoyed the relaxing sounds of nature far more.
I'm all for picking a trail and hiking it for the exercise... but this weekend has shown me that it pays to slow down, even sit for a while, and look around more often.