It appears soon after we round the huge slabs of rock blocking our view – the magnificent, pink-hued hunchback of Angel's Landing.
For the next 30 minutes, as our feet take us farther forward, we can't help but steal glances upward, hands curled around the shuddering chain railing, mesmerized by the mountain’s magnetic presence at this quiet morning hour. The wind howls in our ears and whips my hair savagely in a thousand directions, but it’s a small price to pay for the momentary sensation of freedom and vulnerability, of being laid bare to the world.
Recently, I was approached by a company called Past the Crux. They're aimed at encouraging others to live a life in conjunction with nature and are currently supporting the non-profit Give into Nature, which organizes charity hikes to raise awareness of and to rescue children from human trafficking, a topic very close to my heart. (If you're interested in learning more about Give into Nature and the work they do, click here.)
In their email to me, PTC asked if I might be interested in sharing some precious nuggets of wisdom culled from my travels and adventures outdoors. The intention? Of bringing others closer to our planet and, ultimately, to one another. How could I say no?
And as fate should have it the email came at the most opportune time, too, as Matt and I were smack dab in the middle of our National Parks road trip. It seemed that everywhere we looked there was some grand vista or jaw-dropping scene we couldn't pry ourselves away from.
So we didn't.
We squeezed through slot canyons, trekked through miles of waist-deep water and camped out on Navajo Tribal Lands. We took in the stars with strangers (and sometimes, okay, a lot of the time, we did so alone). We waded out on top of salt flats, went off the grid and visited a Class II Archaeological Site (which you can't find on any maps) and hiked until our feet were blistered and sore. But it's this moment, taking in the nobility of Angel's Landing, one of Zion National Park's most beloved trails, that I keep coming back to.
Maybe it's the amount of effort it takes to get to the top (read: the switchbacks are f*&@ing hellish). Maybe it's the gradual rise to the top. Maybe it's the feeling of looking down at your feet and seeing sheer drop-offs on either side, knowing that one wrong move could mean your life. Maybe it's the grand pay-off at the end.
Or maybe it's all of the above.
That's the funny thing about nature, isn't it? How closely it mirrors life. Each of us is on some sort of journey - whether it's to the top of a 5,790-foot mountain or not, absorbing warnings, failures and truths along the way. These interesting lessons, and how they can relate to our own lives are what define us.
Nature has a special way of transforming us and exposing truths about the world and our place in it. We're interested to hear what lessons you've learned from your outdoor pursuits/ experiences, so please leave us a comment below!
[P.S. If you want to read the full PTC article, click here.]