In my battle against mental fatigue & burnout, I’ve decided to attempt to hike at least once a week…for the entire year. It sounds crazy, but there’s something about nature that uplifts my soul. While tackling organizational and money projects this year, I think I need to inject my life with some good old fashioned sunshine.
Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area
This week’s hike was a short one, just under 3 miles round trip. I wanted a hike close to my home and luckily, living in Arkansas, there are hundreds of gorgeous trails all within 2 or so hours. Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area was recently acquired by the State Heritage Department, and not the State Park system which means it’s lightly traveled but lacking traditional resources (like bathrooms & adequate trail markers).
A quick 30 minute drive put us in Ferndale, Arkansas and parked in the shadow of the ridge. Directly to the East lies Little Rock’s most popular hiking destination, Pinnacle Mountain. Which I love, but has become very overcrowded with families, fitness enthusiasts, and pets. I just want to hike and be alone with my thoughts.
The hike itself was beautiful. Since it was the first week of January, the lack of vegetation offered a true glimpse into the topography of the land: rolling hills, a babbling brook rolling over moss-covered rocks, and the contrast of dark green pine trees. We trudged up steep switchbacks; weaving our way up the ridge mostly in silence. The day before we’d started our clean-up project. We started with one of two spare bedrooms. It was loaded with my boyfriend’s high school and college memorabilia, tubs of books I’d moved into his house but never unpacked, and second hand furniture we’d outgrown. It was also the room his cat Lucy had lived in before she’d died. So there was her cat carrier, food bowls, and kitty cube.
The higher we hiked, the lighter I felt.
Cleaning out Lucy’s stuff, organizing my boyfriend’s old belongings, and parting ways with our “first furniture” was all freeing. That room had become a little shame closet: filled with castaways of our old lives and things we couldn’t quite face. What if we break up and I need that bed frame? Tossing that old amp meant he wouldn’t be playing guitar.
More than anything, I left this weekend feeling empowered. I conquered Rattlesnake Ridge, although it wasn’t that difficult, I did have to scramble over the rattlesnake-patterned rocks. The simplicity of life in the woods can be harsh, but it’s also so beautiful. I want my actual, real life to be that way. And I believe I started off in the right direction. Upward.