Hey there! It’s me, Heidi.
So sorry to have kept you in the dark for the past several days. I just started a new job (clarification – a new temporary job until I find a permanent job), and my week has been a bit nuts. I know, I know. It’s no excuse. It’s a reason, but certainly not an excuse. To make up for it, you get to read this amazing post about the time I did something outdoors. It may never happen again, so relish in this glorious story!
Let’s get to it then, shall we?
If you know me, you know I’m a city gal. I don’t do outdoors. I don’t do camping. I don’t do fishing. I don’t do hunting. I don’t do the sportsball. I don’t do sunburn. I most certainly don’t do sweating. I am a museum going, shopping, theatre viewing, restaurant dining, wine and whiskey tasting, concrete jungle sight-seeing kind of person. That being said… this past November, out of an act of desperation for some “off the grid” relaxation, I decided I was going to go to Asheville, North Carolina, because that’s as far “off the grid” as I was willing to go (don’t you laugh). I text my friend and tell her what I had decided and that she was coming with me. Luckily she was 100% in, and we booked the trip that day.
A couple of firsts happened on this trip: The first time I used Airbnb, the first time I took a 10+ hour road trip with a friend, the first time I went to North Carolina, the first time I went hiking.
I could honestly write ten different blog posts about this one trip – and I might just do that – but, for today I’m going to focus on the hiking part because it was such a big deal. Being in nature was such a big deal. It was a big deal for a few reasons. One, because it’s just so out of the ordinary for me. Two, because I was (and still am) at a point in my life where I constantly feel like I need to escape, to relax, to just be. I’m always busy. ALWAYS BUSY. And, while being busy – for the most part – eases my anxious mind, it is so exhausting. I needed to get away. I needed to clear my mind. I needed to be with a friend who brings reason and sanity into my life. I needed to breathe. I needed to be. To exist in the present moment and nowhere else… in one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my entire life.
I knew I couldn’t do that in a big city. I knew I needed to be in nature.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” -Albert Einstein
“Nature is the art of God.” -Dante Alghieri
“If a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.” -George Washington Carver
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” -William Shakespeare
“God is the friend of silence. Trees, flowers, grass grow in silence. See the star, moon, and sun, how they move in silence.” -Saint Teresa of Calcutta
At the recommendation of a friend, we decided that we were going to drive about an hour south of Asheville to DuPont State Forest for our hike (yep, this is where The Hunger Games was filmed!). Aside from being a bit nervous to drive through the mountains – ok “a bit nervous is a gross understatement… the last time I drove in the mountains I had a massive panic attack and cried – I was also nervous about the forest fires that were surrounding the area at the time, I was nervous about encountering wildlife big enough to eat me and/or just freak me out, and I was nervous that I wouldn’t physically be able to handle hiking for several hours. Some of those anxieties were merited, most were not, and all were immediately thwarted when we arrived to DuPont.
IT. IS. GORGEOUS.
Like…. it’s absurdly gorgeous. We went to the visitor center, got help mapping out our hike, and off we went! Up mountains, down mountains, waterfall after waterfall after waterfall, perfectly cool weather, egg salad sandwiches, wind in the trees, whistling birds, incredible views, and best of all… SILENCE.
It was unlike any silence I’ve ever known. Sure, we talked along the way and we even passed quite a number of other hikers, but the silence was blessed. It was an internal silence. I was calm. The hike was easy at times, rough at times, exhausting at times, exhilarating at times. But, no matter how the actual hike was going or how difficult it got, I was calm. I was so calm, it was calming how calm I was. I want to find that calm again.
On days where I am restless and can’t seem to find peace, I recall that sense of calm. I go back to that place inside of me, and try to just be. To just exist in the moment. On days where I feel exhausted yet still so unaccomplished, I transport myself back to DuPont and remember that if this 4’9” ferociously un-athletic city-loving girly girl can finish a hike in the mountains with a smile on her face, then she can do just about freaking anything!
I think it goes without saying that there are two things I’m going to recommend: 1) Go hiking! Nature can change your life, and 2) If you’re going hiking, check out DuPont State Forest and unleash your inner Katniss!
If you’ve got questions about this destination pop it in the comments section below and I’ll gladly answer!
Until next time,