The falls were so massive and so far away from where I stood that it was hard to take them in entirely. The Mississippi encompasses such a vast area that it feels like water and bridges is all that exists. The rushing water poured steadily over the falls as the sun fell behind the industrial backdrop and left the blue calm over the area. So many people gather here near sunset that it feels more like a busy city street than an old bridge in the old factory district of Minneapolis. The sound of the falls makes it feel like you’re all alone amongst the crowd.
Being in the woods and hiking is one of my favorite things for several reason, but I feel like I think better while I’m hiking. I can process my thoughts while feeling like I’m part of the natural world around me. I feel more in tune with my surroundings, and I notice things like this guy poking his head out of the water as I walked by. He posed for quite a while as I quietly crept around him for a better shot. When I decided to stand up to go to the other side he took his opportunity to dive to the safety of camouflage under the water.
On the precipice of this lake the water dances in the sunset. The beauty hides the darkness beneath that can’t be seen until you cross the threshold. The two exist in such close proximity that the very edge of light is indistinguishable from that of the edge of darkness. You would never know if someone is on either side until they are fully submerged and gone from sight. It would be so easy to slip under, stop treading, and exhale. The last sight is that setting sun coming down with you.
On a drive through Utah from Park City to Provo I just happened to pass by some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve seen on the side of a road. This open pasture was just too perfect with grazing horses and a flowing stream, but to top it all off the snow-capped mountain range in the background makes the scene. This is just one of many amazing roadside attractions I wanted to stop and spend the rest of my day at along the way. If anyone wonders why I want to spend more of my time in Utah, this is the answer.
It’s amazing how serenity can be found in places built out of perpetual chaos. The waves at Portland Head pounded continuously as I perched on the edge of slippery rocks at sunset. The deafening crashes surrounded me and allowed me to bask in a moment where nothing else existed except the waves, the sky, and myself. Some places surprise you with their beauty, and some places let you down; Maine is exactly as you expect it to be. The ocean meets the rocky shoreline like a 19th century maritime painting, and you are transported to another world in which your problems don’t exist.
While driving through Georgia visiting some sections of the Appalachian Trail we came across Vogel State Park. We could see this waterfall from the road so we found our way into the park, ate breakfast, and then picked up the short trail around the lake that led to the falls. There is a small observation deck at the edge of the falls, but you can walk down farther to the bottom if you choose. I stood by the torrent for a long while, letting the white noise of the rushing water drown out all of my thoughts for a few minutes. At that point I needed it, and it was nice.
Watching birds gracefully float through the air is calming to me. They take off in a fuss but end up spreading their wings and letting the wind carry them smoothly through the air. In Louisiana we visited a man-made nesting area for birds, and there were hundreds of them inhabiting the small islands of wood and leaves. Every few seconds one would take off and soar over the water, trying to grab a fish or bringing back more building materials for the nest. They flew with purpose and conviction, but they flew silently, skimming the top of the water with their wingtips.
There’s a reason I always go out around sunset just to see what I can see. Especially when I’m in new places I like to be out around sunset to watch the sky change. Sometimes I get really lucky and come across beautiful little places like this river in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where the sun dropped behind the many arched bridges along the water. It was a silent and peaceful evening along the banks, where steps dropped down so I could sit and enjoy the beauty of central PA. I’m going back this weekend, and I can only hope for something nearly as nice.
Since I’ve gotten back from traveling the days have felt long, and I’ve been attempting to fill them with outdoor activities while the weather is so nice. I took a solo kayaking trip down the Maurice River into Union Lake in Millville, and it gave me a lot of time to get lost in the beauty of the nature in my backyard and think. Whether I was fighting the current to make a sharp turn or coasting calmly through a tunnel of trees I felt centered and happy. Focusing on a field of blue, I let all my worries go and enjoyed the warmth of the sun, the cool of the wind, and the feeling of freedom for the short time I was out there.
Back on the East Coast, and it really feels like it. The trails are what I remember along the Appalachian Trail. We stopped at Amicalola Falls, which is the Approach Trail to the AT. We didn’t hike the whole thing, but we went up to the top of the falls and back around. It’s a beautiful rushing flow that sprays out over the bridge while you look up at it. The dreaded stairs on the trail weren’t even that bad; maybe because we prepared ourselves and we didn’t have 30-pound backpacks on.