Every time I step into the stillness of nature, I learn something new. It’s one of the many things that continue to draw me back. When you are pushing yourself and allowing your mind to be present, in the moment, there is always a lesson to be had. A challenge and a presence of mind are both organically created in the wilderness.
Joel likes to say, “There’s something about walking dirt.” It's true. In the Outdoors, experiences are undeniably richer. Moments, even, become more precious. You begin to see things in people, and in yourself, that you might otherwise never discover. And, if you are looking through the right lens, you can find new keys to living a joy filled life. The thing, perhaps. that we are all truly striving for.
Joel and I were joined by my sister and her husband for a short overnight backpacking trip along the Three Ridges Circuit, one of Virginia’s best loop hikes. It was a rather last minute trip, but even still, we had been nervously watching the rain prediction continue to rise with each new day. Eventually, we all decided that with decent winter gear, we would go – good weather or bad.
We parked along the road at Reeds Gap and hiked into a snow cloud that had swallowed the first mountain ridge. Snowy crystals covered every dormant plant and ice hung in the shape of water droplets from the leaves of trees. Cold and damp, yes, but the gift of being outdoors and hiking in a winter wonderland outweighed the lack of fire we might have at camp that night. Even more precious was the gift of sharing what we love, with the people we love.
The weekend was well spent - getting outdoors, pushing our bodies both mentally and physically, hearing our hearts beating in our ears and being reminded what it feels like to live, fully in the moment.
It can be easy, in the wintertime, to fall stagnant, wishing the days away in hopes of better weather. But, you miss out on a lot of precious moments that way. This short trip reinforced in me the notion that we can stop waiting for the “prime” time to go. Besides, the “prime” time may never arrive. After all, we are talking about nature here; She is always changing – it’s one of her greatest features. If we don’t appreciate the entirety of her elements we miss out on a vast majority of her character. Yes, wet conditions aren’t the best for starting a campfire, but there is nothing better than falling asleep to the pitter-patter of rain dancing on a tent roof. The same could be said for backpacking trips in the winter. Perhaps, not the prime season or the most comfortable conditions but for every con, a pro can also be found. There is no time more “prime” than the present. With the right gear, “off-season” is nonexistent in the Outdoors.