Shortly after writing my blog last night I drifted off into a peaceful sleep. I woke up once in a while, shifted a bit in my hammock, and let my eyes close. After one of these I re-positioned myself in my hammock just in time to hear…
There was an intense blast of thunder that rumbled through the valleys. With little brush, much rock, and many valleys the thunder echoed impossibly loudly for an extended period of time. In an instant I was wide awake. The boys hadn’t made any noise and I didn’t hear anything else . I got up quick, heeded the call of nature and got back into my hammock…
…just in time to hear the wind pick up and start to howl. As with the thunder the wind literally echoed throughout the valleys and continued to pick up momentum. In short order the winds hit our camp and I could feel the temperature drop as the pressure increased.
Right behind the wind was the rain. It came down in a total deluge as the winds howled. The boys were up by then as we had to holler loudly to overhear each other over the forces of nature. As everything calmed down I was serenaded by one of the most peaceful sounds in the world… rain on a tent tarp.
What I’m thankful for the most is the feeling the sheer power of nature. In the instant of thunder blast I was quickly reminded of where I rank in the big picture of all that is. That instant humility and acceptance of something far greater than I is one of the biggest reasons I enjoy spending time in nature. As my parents each told me at an early age, the mountains remind us of just how small we are and how large The Big Dude Upstairs is. The echoing thunder was exactly what I was hoping to find on this trip.
Yesterday was my least favorite hike of all time in the UP. Today was right up there with the best of the best. The entire hike was an adventure through an enchanted landscape. From the start we had to cross a river to follow the trail. Where the hike yesterday was very bland the entire trail today seemed to exude a different vibe.
There were old growth pine forests with much open space. The old pine even made noise as we walked. Some older ones had fallen part way and they let out sounds of tension as they leaned against each other. How often is there such a state of peace and calm in which we can hear the trees talk?
We saw fields of large rocks. Some were obviously the result of erosion of the cliffs above while others seemed very out of place. Those held lines of smaller rocks held tight in the grips of sandstone fossils from thousands of years ago. There were some in large groups and other large rocks sitting alone as if they were an alter from a people long since gone.
We walked through a gate created by a fallen tree. Shortly after passing through it seemed as if we walked through a doorway into completely different world. Everything burst into a vibrant green that came from every direction. Before the doorway there were only large old pine and boulders. After it was only young green trees, bright green moss, and emerald green underbrush. The stark contrast in the two was staggering. In such a short period of time the change was wildly drastic.
As we continued through we slowly wound our way up the hill. Once atop the ridge we were at the edge of nothingness. The fog and clouds were so low that beyond the cliff’s edge there was nothingness. Only cloud and guesses and imaginations of what lay beyond. It felt as if we’d hit the end of the map and the end of the world. This feeling persisted and grew as we continued to hike the trail. While in some ways it would have been amazing to see the full view my mind can’t help but be grateful for having the reality of what lay beyond stay hidden away. The feeling of unknowing leaves me hungry to go back and let’s my mind imagine the possibility.
While walking through this seemingly enchanted landscape I couldn’t help but notice a profound sensation of being home, of being at peace will all in life. The UP of Michigan (Upper Peninsula) has always felt like home to me in ways in which mere words can’t even begin to provide depth to. Those feelings were stronger than ever as I walked the trail today. That path was exactly where I was meant to be at that exact moment, I was home. While I have no hopes or aspirations to move there I know my soul finds extreme peace, stillness, and curiosity in this place. It is a home in ways I cannot fully explain, I can only feel. That feeling of going home after a long trip away, when I walk through the front door and appreciate all I have and my home itself for all that it entails, much beyond its structure and belongings, is a profound feeling of peace, security, and joy. The way I felt on the trail today was similar to that but on a visceral level for my soul itself. Even as I re-read what I’ve written I realize it sounds a bit out there, but I mean it with 100% sincerity. I’m very grateful for the profound feeling of being at home today on the trail.
What makes today even more special is that it was shared with those I love. As a family we created new memories which we will ever forget, moments we’ll hold onto forever. Laughs, smiles, jokes, awe, and a few bits of suffering to keep it real. So many new amazing memories with Becky, Dominic, Gavin, and my buddy Steve. Creating memories together makes the journey so much more profound.