The morning is bright after a cold and gloomy Saturday. It’s still a bit chilly out but with the sun on my skin I pull on my backpack and head for the trail. The shadows dance across the arch that welcomes hikers to the Appalachian Trail, ~ 2180 miles of wild.
We are here for the day, not making even the smallest of dents in the distance, but here we are nonetheless. The plan is to climb the 700, or so, steps at Amicalola Falls State Park and then head out for a jaunt on the A.T. Approach trail. The park ranger has warned us that the stairs are very strenuous, gaining 1000 vertical feet in under 1 mile. She laughs when my dad and I tell her we know what that kind of gain is like from hiking 14ners back in Colorado (aka – it should be no problem). Apparently we must “RESPECT THE STAIRS”…
Off we go, snow crunching under our boots with each footfall. We reach the steps in no time and begin the ascent. Ice clings to the metal grates the closer we get to the falls, passing each landing I am counting the number of steps in my head – 1, 2…10…100. My breath catches, I exhale, “wow”. The falls are giving off a blue hue that is magically brightened by the rising sun and the snow covered ground. Now this is something I’ve never seen before.
amicalola falls from the half way point
morning frost on the steps railings
We push on and with the passing hour the day has begun to thaw. As my dad and I walk out past the state park and toward the A.T. the ice wrapped trees begin to break free.
crack crack crack crack
Ice is falling to the ground, carrying tree branches and leaves along for the ride. Occasionally skimming my shoulder or even less occasionally achieving a direct hit on my head. Though it stings I can’t help but laugh – it’s become a game for us and adrenaline is pumping through my veins. How many times can we dodge an icicle?
Our hike continues – dodging falling objects and jumping puddles – and I am reminded why I enjoy being outside and exploring so much. One of my favorite quotes comes to mind by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air”
Isn’t our world a beautiful thing? I am so thankful for little adventures and the chance to breath fresh air. It helps me reset my intentions and reminds me that all things are possible. The grandeur of nature humbles my struggles because my worries are insignificant when compared to the span of the horizon.
The constant pressures of life are big and I know mine aren’t decreasing but rather increasing in number. So what am I doing to handle the stress?
Building a bigger beaker
Meaning: Imagine measuring life using a beaker. Now fill it with all of your emotions – I’m mostly thinking of stress versus happiness. Depending on the size of your beaker your stress might take up 1/2 of the space (maybe even 3/4!). That doesn’t leave very much room for your happiness so instead of trying to decrease your stress, build a bigger beaker. The recipe for success?
- Do more of the things that make you happy
- Do less of the things that don’t
At the end of the day if something makes my heart feel full then it was good and I’m thankful for that.