Food Bank executive and family get lost in moment while discovering majesty of natural environment
In a state of perpetual change and uncertainty, professionals across the country have sought ways to maintain normalcy and peace in their lives as well as escape the noise of everyday life.
Victor Garcia, CEO of the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, and his wife, Monica, have found that solace in the outdoors. From exploring the highest peaks of Alaska to trudging through the Arizona Hot Springs, or climbing to the top of the Rockies to roaming the trails of the Indiana Dunes, these hiking, camping and cycling adventures have been an integral part of their marriage for years.
“Going on a hike allows you to experience parts of our environment that not everyone sees,” Victor Garcia said. “The payoff of the views is second to none, (and) it’s a great reminder to slow down and pay attention to the now.”
The Garcias began taking camping trips during their first year of marriage. Several years and two kids later, the couple has logged numerous hiking excursions together, and now most family vacations include hikes, runs, rafting and cycling.
Victor Garcia said his love for nature was embedded in him at a young age.
“I’ve been camping since I was a kid,” he said. “My parents were avid campers (who) loved taking long weekends to get away to various state parks and enjoy being outdoors, (and now) my wife and I have continued the love for outdoor activity with our own children.”
Exploring new landscapes might be intimidating but can be an opportunity to challenge fears and push comfort boundaries. Victor Garcia’s aversion to heights does not stop him and his wife from reaching mountain tops for the reward of an incredible view.
“I have complete trust in (Monica’s) ability to find unique trails with majestic views,” Victoria Garcia said. “Having a fear of heights, she knows how to help me push past my self-imposed limits.”
The Garcias said one of their favorite trips was to the Flattop Mountain trail in Anchorage, Alaska.
They described it as unlike anything they have ever seen.
“The beauty and majesty of the mountains in Alaska took my breath away,” Victor Garcia said. “Mount Healy and Flattop Mountain provided views that I had never experienced before in my life, (and) the eerie stillness of being engulfed in the clouds while standing at the top of a trail brings a sense of calm.”
Majestic mountain trails aside, Monica Garcia said there are gorgeous nature preserves closer to home. Traveling to national parks around the country is a great goal, but it is also important to recognize the nearby surroundings people often take for granted.
She said taking a walk in the great outdoors can be good for the body. It allows for numerous physical benefits, fresh air and reaching new heights.
Beyond that, spending time in nature allows people to unplug from a busy and distracted world, and offers time with those they love, Monica Garcia said. Hiking is an opportunity to be present and focus on what is in front of us now.
“Hiking isn’t all about mountains and backpacking, although it certainly can be,” she said. “There are some fun hikes right in our own backyard.”
Monica Garcia said that, during the first few months of the pandemic, she rediscovered several trails throughout the Indiana Dunes.
“Sometimes we’re so busy thinking about what’s bigger and better out there that we take our own natural resources for granted,” she said.
Victor Garcia said blazing new trails and standing at the base of a mountain, which you are preparing to ascend, might be a daunting task, but the uphill trek is something most are capable of. It is worth pursuing.
He often relates hiking to life’s journey.
“You start off on one path but many times you need to course correct to get to the right destination,” Victor Garcia said. “The most important thing is to keep taking one step forward.”