As the summer comes to a close, I had to have one more solid seasonal adventure. For those of you just coming in, my entire blog site started as a response to old habits and beliefs that I needed to question and reevaluate. I decided it was time to start saying “yes” to opportunities that came up, and find out who I really am, and what I’m really about. This part of what has been a ten-year journey has been going on for nine months now, and I can only say it keeps getting better.
As an “adieu” to summer, we decided to go backpacking for the long weekend, and expose me to yet another new experience. And what an experience it was! We spent three days in the wilderness with no schedule, destination in mind, or agenda- just beauty, nature, peace, and a lot of walking. I took a small journal with me so that I could write while I was out there thinking that I wouldn’t want to forget anything. Now I’m pretty sure I couldn’t forget if I wanted to. I knew going out there- I just had a feeling- that it would change me somehow. I just had no idea what that would look like or how much.
From the first step I took, I felt more at home in that moment than I have in… I don’t even know how long and really don’t want to try to compare it to anything. I disconnected from all that I know and fell into nature like a fish to water. The only real reminder of how new the experience was to me was my pack. Carrying an extra 30 pounds is not easy (which helped me fully appreciate the weight I’ve lost). It was heavy and made it hard to breathe sometimes as I learned how to carry my body properly and relieve the pressure I would feel between my shoulder blades, and yet it felt good to push through. I felt accomplished. I felt strong and capable. It felt natural.
I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. The weather was gorgeous, everything was picture-perfect in its beauty, and I found the peace I had been longing for these past few months. I woke up each day ready to take on any adventures that the day would bring, excited and curious. There is nothing quite like waking up to the chill in the air and the sounds of nature: wind rustling the leaves of the trees, animals in their natural habitats exploring and calling out, water rippling- it’s magical. Cooking up breakfast and drinking coffee surrounded in a cacophony for the senses makes for the perfect start to the day.
I had experienced these things camping of course, but to try and explain the difference is impossible. Something about pushing your body each day to go a little further and do a little bit more comes with a separate sense of belonging to the earth. Even after three days I didn’t feel like I was missing anything or needing anything- other than a shower. But not even the desperate need for a shower compelled me for an instant to want to go home. The feeling surprised me to be honest. I never imagined that I would feel that way in so short a time, like I had finally found my real home and everything I had known to this point was a mask. I loved everything about it.
I took the day off after coming back and it was a good thing I did. As it turns out, I am now battling a little depression from my return. I spent the day in total silence with a book. I didn’t really move, feeling completely unmotivated to do anything. Adjusting to what is considered my normal life again has been harder than I ever imagined it would be. I’ve heard of people coming off the Appalachian Trail, or any other long-term hike, and experiencing this same feeling, though I imagine to a much higher degree, and I understand it now. For those moments in time out in nature, you are surrounded in beauty, peace, love, and typically kindness in those around you. You bond with the people you’re with in such an incredible way, including yourself as you realize what you are capable of, and leaving all of that is a shock to the system. Coming back to civilization means also coming back to noise, chaos, pettiness, and the cruelty that fills too many human hearts. It’s drama and problems, even if they aren’t your own. All I’ve had since the minute I came back is the pressing desire to pack right back up and leave again.
I want to sit in silence and listen. Meditate to the birds, the wind, and the water. Walk because it feels good, and for no other reason than my body wants to be in motion. I want to go home again, not just in pictures and memories, and just be. Live simply and fully. I look forward to the next trip, the next adventure, and the continued discovery of all that I am and want to become. Backpacking again is definitely on the list.