Why I need to hike Solo

There is a process that only occurs for me when I hike solo for long stretches of time. Traveling alone also has some of these characteristics, some different, and I need that too. As I walk I begin just full, full, full. My mind goes and goes as I walk. It is emptying, emptying, emptying and it takes really long time. I just let it empty and I can't believe how much comes up and out. I picture it steaming out of my every pore like hot steam off a pond in cool air. I shake it out of my head, my hair, my palms, my feet, into the air and dirt. I like walking and stopping and going off trail at my own pace, my own whim, no one to consider. Gradually my thinking slows down, it's draining out. I start noticing the small things more and more. I have made this a practice, so I actually do notice earlier now. I spend time still, playing with rocks and sticks and marveling over bugs. The drops of water on the leaves, touchingly gorgeous. Black and red centipede with bright yellow legs flowing, the curls of fuzzy new ferns, and up up up the majesty of lichen textures on bark. I sink my fingers into the black dirt and smell it. I pile stones on my belly. I throw twigs into the air, then I throw leaves into the air and see how much slower they fall. I spend a LOT of time stacking flat stones. The intricacy of a spider web, and will the spider run towards my finger if I touch his web gently like a trapped insect? Sitting on a rock down with an enormous cliff in front of me, overlooking the valley, and hanging down in front of me is a 1/2" lime green inch worm dangling and swaying in the breeze on an invisible thread...crazy! Dried lichen tastes ok, I'll bet it would be delicious baked with butter and salt. I'm tricking the onslaught of mosquitos who found me now by curling up inside my rain poncho.....hahaha

this was written with no edits, in spontaneous spurts, along the AT