The life changing experience that sparked my love for hiking, was during the summer of 2014. My father and I took a week out of the summer to go hike around in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. This was a complete change up from my past family vacations as we normally made our way to tropical settings in order to kick back and relax on a beach.
My father had described stories from elk hunting in Colorado in the past where he found a sense of solitude and took in the beauty of the mountains. I always wanted to experience the mountains in a way he had, so I chose to take my introductory trek to this magnificent locale. During our week, we hiked close to 30 miles throughout Rocky Mountain National Park, which is likely farther than I've walked around my hometown in Wisconsin in a matter of five days.
Putting the effort in to make my way, step by step, through the mountains granted me a contrasting sense of fulfillment that I previously hadn't experienced through my past travels.
Walking into the forest, vibrant trees rustling like a chorus in the breeze...
...the faint echo of running water in the distance, massive rocky peaks towering above me on the skyline...
...the sweet aroma of fresh air wafting into my nostrils, and the warm feeling of sunshine on my skin.
Pure sensory overload. It's hard to wipe a smile off my face in this setting! As I see others along the trail, I've observed I'm not the only one that seems to be in this crystal clear mindset.
In the previous three years, I have spent time exploring around in various locations such as Colorado, Canada, Northern Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arizona and most recently Utah. I will tell you that the atmosphere I have experienced along all of these trails is unmatched to other settings. No matter where you are or what your destination may be along the trail, you are surrounded by people who have a congruent mentality. Everyone is looking to take in what nature has to offer, find peace within their mind, and overall enjoy themselves. As I stumble upon someone along the trail I am almost always greeted with a positive, upbeat, smiling face and a word of advice. Predominantly on longer hikes when I am already a few miles from the trail head, in the midst of it all, I can say I've rarely seen someone walking around without an inviting look upon their face and spring in their step.
Carrying this free, open minded mentality is not something many people can say they do everywhere they go. For many it is completely situational. Throughout my experience with hiking I have started to understand how important it is to apply this mindset to everything I am doing.
Often times we get so caught up with what's going on in our own heads in our daily lives that we zone out the world around us. These days I see so many people who don't even take the time to take their eyes off the sidewalk two feet in front of them as they walk by. For me, as I have been working on carrying a clear, upbeat mindset with me where ever I am, I have certainly noticed the positive impact it's had on my life.
This is what keeps me moving.
Stay positive and go hit the trails!