My book, The Dying Fish, features a lot of walking – about 4,400 miles of it. And while walking that distance around a high school track may sound tedious, the journey through the Appalachians, Adirondacks and mountains of New England was anything but monotonous.

I’m a runner – it’s just how I stay in shape. I cruise through a lot of wild country at seven miles per hour or so, watching my footing and m

y surroundings as best I’m able at high speed. I’m training for a marathon right now too, on trails through the Connecticut woodlands this fall.

But I’ve found humility this week – dealing with my old nemesis – shin splints. Wherever I’m at in a running program they seem to be always lurking just below the skin, just where I can feel the dull ache after a run. This week though it’s inadvisable to keep running and so, before they can get any worse, I’m walking and riding a bike.

And furthermore, I’m enjoying it. I see more animals, notice more of nature’s patterns. This morning’s hike around some of the little-frequented trails of North Park netted an array of notable sightings – even birds I couldn’t identify. The male whitetails have half-grown antlers now and there are parts of North Park where they are far more prevalent than people on a weekday. A pileated woodpecker, often one of the hallmarks of wilderness, took apart a dead tree in front of me. Last night I stood in the middle of five tiny owls on another trail, conversing with them as best I was able. All this within the Pittsburgh suburbs this morning.

So, I won’t become discouraged over the walking. I’ll heal, stay on the trail and enjoy the view.

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