I’m struggling to find the words for my blog tonight. The core of the message itself is so very simple, but each stab I take at typing out my blog seems to miss the mark slightly. Sometimes I just type as my brain thinks rather than think through the entire post first, let’s try it and see if that does the trick tonight.
Yesterday morning the boys and I headed south of La Crosse almost to Hillsboro. We met up with my buddy, Steve, at some family land. We grabbed our gear out of the car and proceeded to walk into the wild, our home for the next 24+ hours.
Earlier in the summer we did the “Dollar Store Challenge” at the same location. This time we wanted to practice our winter camping skills and test out some equipment and techniques before winter really hits. We slept in hammocks and set up tarps over top of us (Dominic was the only exception as he used his little one person backpacking tent). We all had various levels of clothing and sleeping gear. After setting up our sites we tried different strategies for warmth including under quilts on hammocks (very successful) and rocks from the fire ring to radiate heat (fail). We lashed chairs, Dominic made a swing, we ate dehydrated food, we gathered fire wood, and the boys and I tried squirrel for the first time in our lives. While exploring we found what appeared to be a couple of badger holes. Sitting around the fire and shooting the bull while staring at the coals was as wonderful as it always is. While laying in our sleeping bags the owls continued to hoot. The coyotes called in the distance. The moonlight lit up our camp area to the point we really didn’t need a headlamp when getting up. In the morning we broke camp and headed back home. So many awesome memories made in a short period of time.
At home we unpacked, started laundry, opened up the new sleeping hammock I got in the mail exactly two hours after we left the house, and then Becky and I headed out for a five mile hike in the bluffs in La Crosse. We enjoyed talking as we hoofed up and down the bluffs on the trails. The entire time we were surrounded by the beauty of nature. The sounds of a hawk in the distance. The woodpecker working on a hole in a tree just off the trail. The squirrels running everywhere. So peaceful.
To say the time outdoors was awesome wouldn’t even being to describe it with the level of depth it deserves. What I am the absolute most thankful for today is the ability to escape to nature and experience wit with those I love. There’s a magic to the wilderness, a music the outdoors and nature play for my soul. There is no news, no social media, no distraction. There is only the present. When in the wild I am able to be 100% present in so many more moments than almost anywhere else. To be able to share that with those I love enhances my experience even more. We create memories together. We deepen each of our own passions for the wild while helping cultivate other appreciations of nature for each other.
Maybe that’s the distilled answer to what I am thankful for today…
I’m grateful for the passion I have for spending time in nature and for sharing those moments of presence and serenity with those I love, while learning to appreciate the wild more deeply, more completely, and from their viewpoints as we create lifelong memories.
I’ve got to give a shout out to one of my favorite bands, Hollow Coves, for writing a song that really hits the core of how my soul feels when being out in the woods like this in their song The Woods. You can check it out here: https://youtu.be/Ejdvyf_wXl8 Enjoy!