“I wanted to know, whoever I was, I was alive for a little while.” – Mary Oliver
Years and years ago I went on my first hike “alone”. I went on a 4 mile out and back trail, it was flooded with people and the actual trail was just a paved walking path. I had no clue where I was going, what I was doing or even what I wanted; all I did know was that I had this seed of an urge within me to explore, and I literally followed that urge to the first ‘trail’ I could find. And I’ll be very honest, I loved every moment of it that strip of pavement. I could feel the air I was breathing, I was hearing the trees dance to the wind, and for the first time in a while I felt like a simple human being, like myself. Sure I was surrounded by other people, and sure I was ‘hiking’ on pavement just a short drive from the city, but that day on the trail I felt absolutely free and even a bit wild.
I was reminded of this hike recently, and to this day the thought of it puts a smile on my face. This short walk alone into the seemingly unknown was a turning point in my life, it was the beginning of my life looking and feeling like it was mine to live.
You see, that paved walking path eventually led me to dirt trails, which lead me to overnight hikes and trips, which led me to backpacking, which led me to thru hiking, which lead me to an outdoor oriented lifestyle, which ultimately led me to life full of love. And although I no longer regularly hike or backpack solo that much anymore, the time I spent alone on the trails is very much a part of the person I am, the woman I am – the human being I am.
From those humble beginnings I learned not to fear myself, nor being alone – whether it be people, birds, trees, insects, coyotes, or the sound of running water, good company is always closer than you think. To this day trials show me that with darkness comes beauty and peace – to be more interested than I am afraid. And slowly over the years, after hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles on narrow dirt paths, there are moments when I genuinely feel that I am every bit of the beauty and magnificence that I see, feel, and appreciate out there. I couldn’t have dreamed up how mama nature would fulfill my life the way it does now.
So if you’re on the fence about stepping outside your comfort zone and exploring a new hobby or interest, let me give you a little nudge into the new and unknown…. Do it. My relationship to adventure and nature grew from a very faint, unknown, untraceable, and unrelenting seed inside me. And it sounds trite to say, but, following that urge changed my whole world. With each step in on the trail I am transformed into the person I am destined to be.
Take the first step, it’s worth it.
Together let’s live a life of no regrets, shall we?