I’m finally taking some time to sit down to write this post because so much has been changing over the past two months and this trip happened right in the middle of my decision making. When I got back I just didn’t feel inspired to share. I wanted whatever I wrote to be genuine and in the midst of change I wasn’t feeling 100% genuine. So I waited. But now, here we are.
It’s no secret by now that Shenandoah is one of my favorite places.
I really can’t describe why, it just feels so right being there. Everything is good when you’re amongst those trees. Even when you encounter a bear and cubs directly in your path and have to trudge through a field of ferns, up a vertical cliff of mud, and down the road to then encounter a rattlesnake – even in those moments everything is magical and lovely and wonderful.
This trip set my mind on a very different path than the one I was going down previous to spending two days without cell phone reception or unprocessed food.
It’s there, when I talked to two thru hikers from Pittsburgh and saw many more along the trails as I drove past that the idea really stuck out to me and made it all seem like a possibility.
On that short trip is when I initially started to even consider the fact that maybe I could do a thru hike and I could possibly do it sooner rather than later.
I went to Shenandoah expecting to be moving to Pittsburgh the next month and I came out of that trip wondering if that was really the path that was following my heart.
When I am there that’s what I’m doing, following my heart.
I go to see waterfalls, amazing views, have no connection to the outside world, eat too much almond butter to the point that I don’t eat it again for months, talk to others who are enjoying the same things as I do, see wildlife, watch sunsets, and just be there. Present. In the moment.
That’s a quality that I wanted to incorporate more into my daily life and I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job at just that.
Hiking up to Upper Hawksbill at 7:30 a.m. after already hiking to a waterfall before that and getting to the top, sitting there eating what would be the 14th Clif Bar over the last two days and just being. Realizing how small that you are in a world that is so big. Looking down below and knowing that people are going about their lives – driving to work, going to a doctors appointment, weeding their garden, shopping for a wedding dress; whatever it is, they’re down below you doing it and you’re up in the mountains, in this one special spot having such a significant life moment and they have no idea. To them it’s just another day, another task. But to you, it’s so much more.
On my trip to Shenandoah in June with my friend Jaimee, she said something that stuck out to me that I still think about to this day. We were watching the sunset while sitting on a blanket on the side of the road and eating almond butter, strawberries, and Complete Cookies for dinner. As the sky turned shades of pink and violet she said sunsets like this happen here everyday. They just keep happening and each time they’re just as special. We only got to see one of them on that trip but knowing that they’re happening and there are people out there pulled over on Skyline Drive watching a magnificent show in the sky unfold each evening is really comforting.
It is. That thought is really comforting to me and has somehow made me appreciate the sunsets that I see from there a little bit more.
In fact, it’s made me appreciate everything in my life a little bit more.
The little moments that happen over a period of time, something that seems so insignificant such as being pulled over on the side of the road watching a sunset has the power to take your life in a whole other direction. It all matters. The small things matter. Once you start paying attention to them, then you have power to create big things and before you know it, you’ll be sitting on top of a mountain on a Tuesday morning in awe of the journey that you took to get there.
Wherever you go, go with all your heart.