We spent the morning exploring a new side to a familiar state park. While I’ve spent years hiking Pinnacle Mountain, I’ve never seen this east side view. It was surprisingly – or not – beautiful in its simplicity. No it didn’t offer the best view in the park. But it did offer a moderately strenuous trail through rolling hills and thick forrest. It did offer 3.5 miles of solitude in crisp 30 degree temps. It offered us a chance to be still, be silent, and to grieve.
Last week we learned a friend of ours had died suddenly. At 27 years old. That in itself is a tragedy. I found the empty trail the perfect time to reflect on his short life. We spoke about our favorite memories while scrambling up rocks and hopping over the mud. There is something about nature that brings out your most pure self.
“I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life” – Henry David Thoreau
Wandering through the woods we were able to confront our friend’s death in a way that was honest – anger, grief, laughter – it all swirled together amongst the leaves and dirt. One of my favorite things about winter hiking is the solitude. With no one on the trail but us, we were able to spend moments in silence with just our breathing as well as talking as loudly as we wanted.