When I was a kid I’d spend hours climbing on boulders, hopping from one to the next like a goat. As I got older this tendency didn’t fade. Instead, the boulders got bigger. Hiking a boulder cove on a White Mountain trail is still a delight and I hope it always will be. Perhaps the ultimate boulder hopping adventure is Muhoosuc Notch in Maine. Once you’ve done this “toughest mile of the Appalachian Trail”, you’ll know what boulder hopping is all about.
A similar, less strenuous experience is walking along a long jetty that hasn’t been civilized for the general population. A jetty that’s basically a pile of rocks extended out into the water is much more interesting than, say, the Rockland Breakwater. Both serve the same utilitarian purpose, but the secondary benefit of each is very different. The relatively flat Rockland Breakwater allows you to look around a bit instead of constantly checking where you’re going to land your foot next. Hopping from rock to rock can be compared to working on a jigsaw puzzle in that it requires a high level of concentration, which becomes meditative. Another analogy might be playing chess, where you’re thinking a few moves ahead to ensure success.
Stepping stones in a stream are another form of boulder hopping, and offers it’s own reward as well as risk. Gauging distance between stones, the level of traction you’ll experience when you land on it and the relative stability of the stone are critical components to your overall success in staying dry and getting where you need to go.
Ultimately the analogy of stepping stones and one’s career is overused, so I’m not going to dwell on that here. To me the exhilaration of jumping from one boulder to the next is enough. I’ve never come across a pile of rocks that I haven’t wanted to crawl over or hop from one to the next. Or a scattering of boulders on a body of water that I haven’t mentally played connect the dots with to determine the best way to land on each without stepping on the same stone twice. That’s not unlike points on a map, is it?