Grateful to Travel by Foot

Last week, I spent a day hiking at St Mary’s Glacier outside of Idaho Springs, Colorado with two of my dearest friends. The three of us hiked up to the glacier and spent most of the morning climbing the snowy mountain, slipping on ice, avoiding hidden rocks and appreciating the deep blue sky. The wind was sharp and the air was thin, and I was reminded just how grateful I am to be human; to be able to breathe in air at 10,000 feet; to have traveled so many miles this year by foot.

The last nine months of my life have challenged the ways I understand risk and desire, questioning what adventure and fear mean, how to embrace constant transition and treat myself with patience. This year has renewed my faith in humanity while also reminding me of the untamable power of Mother Nature, a power that repeatedly kicked me to the earth below. From March to August, my hiking partner and I traversed the Appalachian Trail, heading north, humbled and inspired by the magic of the trail.

The following months were unsettling and full of hyper speed traveling; celebrating weddings, visiting family and friends across the country, road-tripping to both the west coast and the east coast and moving my life back to my home state. Now, I’m trying to figure out what it means to live as an adult in the city where I grew up, while processing the continuing lessons that thru-hiking teaches me about resilience and being human:

  • Take the time to travel slowly, especially by foot.
  • Don’t be afraid of stepping away from your life if something in the wilderness compels you.
  • Trust your body. Get enough sleep. Eat enough food. Treat yourself with kindness.

And when my experience each day on the AT feels so far away from where I am now, drowned by my current fear of unknowns and continuing transitions, I can pause. I go spend a day in the mountains or take a long walk on the tree-covered path by my home. Ever since I was a little kid, my feet have always carried me forward, towards the mountains. This past year has re-affirmed just how happy and free I am when I’m outside.

Here I am, calmed and grounded by the constant of the Rocky Mountain skyline.

After many of us sat down with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday to practice gratitude (and eat pie!), I hope we can continue to honor all that taking risks and following your bliss can bring to us. Even when it scares you.

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