“It had nothing to do with gear or footwear or the backpacking fads or philosophies of any particular era or even with getting from point A to point B.
It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.”
― Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
On Saturday, we hiked. My Guy and I strapped all that we would need for 24 hours on our backs and we ventured with Sparky and Mr. McDougal in to the wilderness.
I am fascinated by trail hiking, especially long-distance hikers who wax nostalgically about "finding themselves" over many body-crushing miles on the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail. They write about mutilated feet, scorching heat, unbearable cold and the kindness of strangers on the trail. They recite scores of stories about long days hiking with only the thought of how much physical pain they were in. They remember being scared, lonely, worried, tired, and sick of themselves. I immerse myself in their stories, walking alongside them in my mind.
How I long to be one of them.
Odds are, I'll never be a thru-hiker. As it is, we take some pretty short trips because my knees simply can't take the load in their current state. But I suck up the pain of my arthritis-riddled joints because I cannot bear to not do it. There is something so satisfying about carrying a heavy load up a mountain, making camp, finding wood to make a fire and sitting by a river or a stream filtering water for drinking. It's primal. And soul-repairing. It doesn't have to be a long journey. It just has to be...away. Away from smart phones and tvs and cars and stores and ads and "I want" and "I need" and "Could you?" and lawns to be mowed and every single other item that demands your attention every moment of every day.
Sometimes, it's just good to be away. Really, truly AWAY.
I sat there on Sunday morning perched on a large flat rock in the middle of a stream. The temperature was just under 40 degrees Fahrenheit and I could see my breath in the beams of early morning sunlight streaming through the trees. I yawned and rubbed my eyes before I put the plastic tubing of the water filter into the icy water. As I slowly pumped the water through the filter into our Nalgene bottle, I became intentional in my appreciation for this planet, this life, my friends and family and for the many things I tend to take for granted every day. I sat there on that rock in the frigid cold before I ever even had one drop of morning coffee and I thanked God for everything I have, everything I am and everything I have yet to learn.
It was a beautiful time of worship. And I can't wait to get back there again. Join me? You know you want to...
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