Virtual Hiking Update: Imperfect Efforts Give Great Results

Our virtual hike of Hadrian’s Wall Path in England is not going at all the way I thought it would. I have not made time to read in detail about the places on the HWP that we are passing when we walk. We have not walked every day. Even my records of the birds I encounter while we are out are full of questions marks. Despite all that, we are on track to meet our goal and I am amazed that our less than perfect efforts are working so well.

Dory walking with determination. She is undaunted by goals and free of perfectionism.
Dory walking with determination. She is undaunted by goals and free of perfectionism.

Having a goal has really helped me to be more active. My Inner Perfectionist moans that we’ve “only” walked half of the days of the last month, but we’ve covered 43 miles. Thanks to our May 23rd deadline, I’m constantly watching the weather and getting out whenever I can, even when I don’t feel like it. Twice in the last week alone, I looked out at warm sunny weather and wondered if I had the energy to walk. But I got a walk in on both days by lowering my standards and taking the shorter of our two walks (1.4 miles instead of 2.6).

For no reason other than I like to record things, I wrote down the birds we saw on our very first HWP walk back on March 17th. Once I started, it became an obsession a habit, and I decided to exercise my brain along with my body. I began to memorize all the bird species that I saw or heard and then wrote them down when I got home. Identifying all the birds sounds anal, but I am not doing it perfectly. I don’t worry about the birds I don’t know. I label them the best I can, resorting to LBB when I glimpse a “little brown bird” or adding a question mark to an ID that is uncertain.

A western meadowlark: we hear this bird daily but only see him now and then.
A western meadowlark: we hear this bird daily but only see him now and then.

I don’t know if my memory is improving, but watching and listening for birds has sharpened my awareness of my surroundings. I stay in the moment, pay attention to the world around me, and see things I would otherwise have missed. Not doing it perfectly keeps it relaxing and fun.

As for our virtual progress along Hadrian’s Wall, we’re currently somewhere between the Roman fort at Brocolitia and Sewing Shields, well out into the country, where sections of the stone wall still stand. I can’t tell you anything about the things we have passed so far, but I can share this beautiful image of the temple to Mithras at Brocolitia, which I wouldn’t have found if I wasn’t using Hadrian’s Wall to track my progress.

A natural rock wall we passed on one of our walks this month. A reminder of the virtual setting of our two month hike.
A natural rock wall we passed on one of our walks this month. A reminder of the virtual setting of our two month hike.

My effort is nowhere near perfect, but it is effective. Having a goal is helping me to push myself, but letting go of perfectionism means I don’t worry about doing things perfectly.

Did I walk yesterday? The day before? It doesn’t matter. I just do the best I can do today.

We are on track to meet our goal because even the short walks I’ve taken on my bad days have helped us inch towards the finish line.

Author: Kit Dunsmore

Kit is a writer and an artist who adores living in Colorado. Whether she's hiking in the mountains or walking the prairies, she's always watching the wildlife in order to learn more about the natural world.

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