This post comes from our blog intern, Aubrie!
Bill Bryson wrote the witty travel memoir A Walk in the Woods which details his attempt to backpack the length of the Appalachian Trail across fourteen states in America. Starting in the lush southern peaks of Georgia and ending up just short of the finish line in the back country mountains of Maine, his account chronicles a long yet majestic journey through the forest. With both physical and mental obstacles along the way, it’s easy to see why hiking this famous trail is considered a venture of self-growth. The author quotes in the novel, “I gained a profound respect for the wilderness and nature and the benign dark power of woods. I understand now, in a way I never did before, the colossal scale of the world. I found patience and fortitude that I didn’t know I had.”
A few months ago in New Hampshire, I picked up a friend along the trail to house him for a few days rest. Taking the route from North to South — the opposite of Bryson’s — he was only about an eighth of the way through the trail. As I sat at the dinner table watching him inhale three whole plates of food, I could see the effects of his journey first hand. He told of the unforgettable characters he had encountered, and the ridiculous nicknames they bestowed upon each other; he was learning the great value of companionship from complete strangers. However, it soon became evident that the most challenging part of it all wasn’t the terrain, it was the solitude. For days he trudged through the depths of the forest, hearing only the sound of chirping birds or the pattering of rain against his backpack. A certain kind of gloom lingered in his voice when admitting this loneliness, yet I found bravery in his ability to overcome this obstacle and truly grow from the wisdom of the outdoors.
While I may not be willing to make the extensive trek myself just yet, these stories of the trail have inspired me to get in touch with myself more through interaction with nature. Recently I took a trip to the Delaware Water Gap, to trickling streams and abandoned barns tucked away in some of the very mountains the Appalachian Trail meanders through.
There are times when nature will beckon to us from every angle, whispering to come closer and fully admire its beauty. The golden leaves will float down like feathers, guiding the way to an open trail. With serene backdrops, crisp air, and cozy layers, fall is the perfect time to explore and learn the lessons that nature can teach us.
Taking note of Bryson’s wise words, we can learn that if we take the opportunity to get in touch with ourselves, we may just find a whole new respect for the woods. A simple walk through the forest can lead to unexpected adventure. In all aspects of life, we often find ourselves in a place we never thought we would end up. Find the beauty of exploring in realizing those moments.
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