This last weekend, George and I took Friday off and ventured north into the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. My dad and his wife, Micheline, own a picturesque cabin near the tiny town of Creede.
I want to make something clear, when I say picturesque I’m not referring to luxury. Deep in the heart of the San Juan National Forest, without cell phones, internet, or electricity, this quaint cabin is basically glorified camping. Far nicer than a tent, still more rustic than an RV. The last leg of the drive is one long dirt road that winds past the Rio Grande Reservoir. Multiple times on the drive, our car lurched into a pothole while George ignored the dusty road to soak up the enchanting views.
We spent the next few days hiking up mountains and learning about coniferous mushrooms. We pulled up countless mushrooms, at least a dozen in variety, and bent over a small brochure describing the different varieties. We fantasized about a backpacking trip where you survive on native plants in the area, although I wasn’t brave enough to nibble on the mushrooms we did find.
I will often rave about how travel will teach me about other cultures, but ultimately, I love experiences that teach me about myself. Travel does that, and wilderness does that. You learn about who you are when you push yourself higher up a mountain, deeper into the forest. For me, the best hikes always feature a moment where the world seems to stand still and silent. You don’t need Machu Picchu for that. You don’t need the Pacific Coast Trail, the Grand Canyon, or Yellowstone National Monument. Obviously, there are some amazing things to see in each of these areas, but the real art is finding clarity and beauty without going to extremes. Just get outside and push yourself physically and mentally.
I adore this quote from a recent New York Times article, Go Take a Hike!
So when the world seems to be falling apart, when we humans seem to be creating messes everywhere we turn, maybe it’s time to rejuvenate in the cathedral of the wilderness — and there, away from humanity, rediscover our own humanity.
It’s something that’s always been true for me, “in the woods we return to reason and faith.” I’m extremely lucky to be on such an amazing earth. 🙂