“A moment of place on public lands that took you away from all of your worries and stresses.”
2019 - Topic 3
January 24, 2019
Join us on Twitter with the hashtag #NatureWritingChallenge to discuss and share the topic Thursday at 8:30 CST. This post was created in one hour specifically for this challenge.
Every trail, every time.
I’d be lying if I said that every time I go hiking, I am relieved of some stress or find peace in some way. There are some days, some trails, and some environments that just don’t do it for me. It’s completely personal and I know it is likely dependent on my head space of the day. If I’m at my local park, which has a freeway nearby, I’m often there just to bang out a hike and not escape from reality. The trails are great, the terrain fun, and there are some parts that are more secluded than others but overall it’s not much of an escape. If i go to this local haunt with a mildly bad attitude or a need to relax and escape, it’s not going to happen because my brain will focus on the billion park patrons and seventy billion cars flying by over yonder on the freeway. Every trail has a purpose for both my physical needs and my mental needs and after a few years, I have them all figured out. When I need to fully escape, collect my thoughts, and feel the world disappear I head to the west.
Texas has red rocks and canyons.
I can’t always afford to fly to the Pacific Northwest, where I find peace on every adventure, so I drive to the state parks in West Texas. I’m fortunate to have a good car and a job that allows me to get out of the city and escape into the horizon. I recently visited Palo Duro Canyon State Park - the Grand Canyon of Texas. This place has red rocks and blue skies and is only five and a half hours away. I was in a sort of “blah” mood recently, so I drove out there and spent 10 miles alone with myself and quickly focused on my immediate surroundings. I was watching the light dance around the canyon - bouncing off the little hoodoos and red rock walls. I watched the clouds drift through the sky and got to breathe in that crisp winter air with hints of juniper. My phone and watch were in airplane mode, only there to track my path and take photos. I had disconnected and it felt amazing. These trails were not free from other people, but the one I chose was mostly empty compared to other popular spots. I stopped often, because my hikes aren’t about speed, and I would take in the view and write a little note about my thoughts or what I observed. I stopped to take a closer look at the rocks, the plants, and the birds. I’m not saying Palo Duro Canyon is my ultimate spot, but it is one place I know I can go in the dead of winter and be somewhat alone with myself allowing a true escape.
My ultimate escape.
If I had to pick a place where I felt 100% free from any weight or stress it would be the Olympic Peninsula. I’m not going to pinpoint one spot because I spent a solo weekend all over last March and it was the absolute best solo trip I’ve taken to date. I love to meet up with people, be shown around, and socialize but there is just something about a solo trip that really stuck with me. When I flew to Seattle in March, I expected a rainy weekend of hiking and was ready for it. I didn’t have any plans to meet up with anyone and didn’t have any intention of doing so. My first stop was the Mt. Storm King trail. My phone was mostly out of service and I had it with me for photos - a trend you’ll see. I hiked, alone, without really seeing anyone along the way. The area, the trail, and the experience was new to me. I had nothing better to do than focus on my feet, the sky, the trees, the birds, and the breathtaking views. When I get lost in the trees, figuratively, the world begins to melt away. My financial woes, my family woes, my minor modern world problems all fade to the background, or away completely. When I’m hiking in the northwest I find a new perspective because I’m removed from my world and placed in a new one. When I hiked the Ozette Loop I hadn’t had phone service since the day before early on. I was truly removed from the world and it was the best. I set out on another new and exciting adventure through the trees to the coast. I had no worries, no problems, and no issues during those hours. I stopped to take as many photos as my heart desired, I stopped to really take in the swamp, and then I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard the waves and smelled the sea air. The only things on my brain during that hike were related to the moment I was in at the time. What a treat, right? The northwest, and specifically the Olympic Peninsula, has always been a favorite but from that weekend forward it is where I go (physically and mentally) to relax my brain.
I hope you can find some peace in nature this year, this month, and/or this week. Go find your happy place!