I really missed hiking. It was a ritual that rejuvenated my mind, body and soul. It was a
way to let go of my responsibilities, there was nothing to do except let the calm of nature
become a part of me and me a part of it. There’s nothing to do except inhale the pure sweet
smell of untouched landscapes of prairies, the woods, and even dirt. There’s nothing to do
except feel the touch of earth below your feet. Oh how I missed that.
Not far from the lab is beautiful hiking area called Indian Lake. Prior to my introduction to
disability I had hiked each and every trail, but I gave up ever hiking there or any other
place again. I was definitely thrilled my abilities were getting better and better yet I held
an untold fear that I wouldn’t ever be the same again. This was a fear that seeped into
hiking ever changing and uneven terrains that it was over. Yet, getting better and better at
what I could do introduced a revived feeling of deep down confidence I hadn’t felt in years.
It said, get back out there, to use the residual workouts to take a trek no matter what
happens, no matter if I fell down. I had to be brave.
I told to Mitch and Yuri that I was going to Indian Lake for a hike. Both tried to talk me
out of it. I stood tall with reappeared confidence and told them they couldn’t stop me. I left
the building and with a deep breath, got in my car and left. I was going to take my first
steps into proving to myself the promise of confidence would see me through my-self
I won’t lie, the drive on winding back roads to my expedition was frightening, but I didn’t
care. I released that fright and focused on what was waiting for me. I allowed myself to
embrace the feel of freedom. As I parked in the lot I looked out the windshield and saw my
future ahead. I stepped out of my car and placed my footprint onto the earth beneath my
feet, feeling the surroundings that suddenly meant so much more. Tears of magnificent joy
rolled down my cheeks as the sight of freedom overwhelmed me; I was looking into the
eyes of God’s creation.
The trail I chose was a grassy path. It began flat, like a sidewalk. I took my time and
stopped along the way saying hello to trees I passed countless times before. I strolled past
a lake where ducks swam leaving a trail of ripples dancing on the water. The trail turned
left where on both sides prairies of tall green grass and wildflowers danced in the warm
breeze and upon my skin. I still feel that touch.
Beyond the prairie stood a dense line of trees, their leaves waving in a friendly motion to
come on in. It was their invitation to step into the beauty of trees standing tall amid
blankets of gentle ferns covering the earth and offspring of mighty oaks, maples, and birch
stretched to reach the sky.
The trail curved past a grandfather oak I always admired for its majestic strength and
valor. It is the landmark for the trail to work its way uphill. I paused to view its marker as I
remembered the very first time I followed its direction. It was then I realized I was given a
second chance at one of the many first times again. I walked up the hill where at the top I
turned to see grandfather oak looking back. I was home.
The uneven dips and bumps of the trail challenged me beyond words. I wobbled A LOT yet
managed to move on and stay upright. I faced my fear and chose to continue rather than
stop in defeat. I paused often to reset my bravery standing amid memories of a long ago
thrill. I was overwhelmed with life breathing emotions that to this day dance in my heart.
Every turn, every hill, every place welcomed me, I welcomed it. The further I traveled the
braver I became. Reaching the end of the trail I knew I had reached the end of my fear. I
really was home.
Your words and perseverance are just such an encouraging story of healing!!
Thank you so much Deb, that means a lot to me. Hope all is well with you.
I love what you wrote. I had the same feelings when I camped at Mirror Lake State Park in the accessible cabin. It changed me, in a VERY GOOD WAY.
I knew this would resonate with you Shelley. What an amazing life we lead, in spite of what’s been laid on our plate!