Sometimes a challenging hike can become a metaphor for life.
Exploration week was full of laughter and joy, but there were also some difficulties. Before I left I set a goal for myself on this journey through the Trap Hills, I was going to be aware and contemplative within myself throughout the trip. Through all the ups and down of the rolling hills I put this into practice whenever I was able. It allowed me to become closer to nature and my surroundings. I was also aware of the impact that I saw on the environment. I was making sure my impact was as small as I could make it. My trip was beautiful and hard which made me appreciate it even more.
The Trap Hills are beautiful and breathtaking, which made working for the view even more rewarding. There were quite a few instances where I had to put my goal into practice. Even though my goal was always circling in my mind there were times that I had to try harder. The first one was my first day. I wasn't sure what to expect about the terrain, we were told ups and downs which isn't very specific so I had to keep an open mind. The day was easy as far as mileage goes, only seven miles. By the sixth mile my feet ached, my back killed, and we were still going uphill. In this moment of pain, I remembered my goal, I internalized my pain and kept going. Instead of complaining I distracted myself with the changing colors and the way the leaves felt on my hands as I walked past. Being more aware of my surroundings and being contemplative within myself helped me get up those last hills and notice the little things on trail.
My goal was an ever present thought, especially on our third day. It was hot and humid, sweat was constantly dripping down my face, running into my eyes. I knew this day was going to be difficult; we had our tallest ascent today. The hacking sight, where people had released peregrine falcons, years before was now our end goal for the day. We would be hiking uphill for a solid mile and a half. From the moment I woke up I already dreaded the journey ahead. This was the second time I really had to use my goal, telling myself that the hike was going to be hard but I would feel like I conquered the world when I reached the top and saw the amazing view.
As I started my ascent, at the back of the pack, I was already finding things to keep my mind occupied. I noticed that the color of the dirt was slowly changing, I noticed the excess amounts of moss that had covered the trail. Sadly, I also noticed a single beer can on the edge of the trail. As I was slowly struggling up the hill I came to a realization. My legs burning, my lungs gasping for air, my mind racing constantly asking myself if I could do this, I realized that the Trap Hills and especially this hill was a metaphor for life. I became aware that just like the Trap Hills, life has ups and downs, some harder than others. But, if we don't have the determination and awareness to check in with ourselves and continue up that hill then we will never get to the top, and/or our goal. It was rewarding to be able to come to this realization and I was amazed at what I could accomplish.
Throughout the trip I constantly checked in with myself, making sure I was being kind even though I was in pain, and making sure I was looking up. The trail had roots and rocks spread across it so I had to make sure that I was watching where I was going. I soon realized that I was only seeing my feet as we walked along so I made an effort to look up and see the beauty. Whenever we would slow down or stop I would take a second to stop looking at my feet and look up; look at the sky, at the trees, at the birds. It made me feel small and meek, like I was an observer, nature is not here for my enjoyment but I can always stop to enjoy and appreciate it. Sometimes that feeling is very humbling and it definitely was in this case. I was humbled to be a part of this world and that I was a part of the Trap Hills journey.
This trip helped me with my Conserve School learning goal. On this endeavor into nature I told myself that I was going to demonstrate observational and reflective skills necessary to the development of a meaningful and lasting sense of place. I feel as though I did this, every day and every moment I could. I went star gazing, I played in rivers, I sat in silence just looking at the ways the leaves and water moved in the wind. I realized that this journey was a lot like a metaphor for life and I will always remember it as such. Even though we were very close to civilization, it felt like I was a million miles away, wild and free. I was able to be myself and connect with nature. When I'm outside I find that I am the best version of myself: contemplative, aware, and playful.
I was constantly amazed by how absolutely stunning everything was, and it sometimes felt like this wilderness was pure and undisturbed. I would be smacked back into reality when I saw a beer can or an article of clothing. Even in somewhere that's not often used, there is still trash and things that need to be fixed. It made me realize that there was still a lot to be done with the environment. At the same time, I was very impressed that the land did not look like there was hardly any human impact on it, except for those little things. This made me appreciate nature further and all it has to offer.
My journey through the Trap Hills was one I will never forget. As I go further in life there are other goals that I would like to implement in my life. I would like to become a better listener in my everyday life. I find that I often wait to speak instead of just listening. I want to work on this as I believe that it is an important part of an everyday life. I strive for inner contemplation as well as to be a great listener. Being more in tune with both nature and myself helped my journey through the Trap Hills. The skills that I learned on this adventure will help me in further endeavors out in the wild.