Monday, November 21, 2011

hiking: eno.river

This weekend I went back to Chapel Hill to spend some quality time with one of my old roommates. Such a welcome change of pace and scenery.

In planning, she told me that she and some friends were going on a hike and asked if I would be ok going as well. I agreed and looked forward to some light exercise and the chance to commune with nature. In my mind, I thought, "Nice. Leisurely stroll through the woods."

The obstacle course of the great outdoors.

There was a little piece of information that I did not receive. Eight. MILE. Hike. Hike, not stroll. Meaning there were inclines and big rocks involved. Eight. 8. 八。Yes. I pulled out the Chinese. Had I known, I would have brought actual hiking shoes.

The progression of fall and winter

Despite my initial shock and mild panic that I hadn't brought water and hoping that it wasn't wet otherwise my fabric shoes were going to make for a very miserable time, it turned out to be predominantly pleasant. Take out the aching of my feet and thighs and knees as I faced the downward slopes that meant inevitable upward hills (signs of my physical atrophy), it was downright fun.

Bare Reflection

And Beautiful. Although the trees had lost the majority of their leaves, there was something captivating about the transition to bleakness and winter.  The temperature was perfect. Not warm, but just cool enough that walking made me shed layers and roll up sleeves.

in a sunny haze

In the end, we only walked about 7 miles. We hadn't quite reached halfway when our trail crossed this little creek with a broken dam just upstream. Can anyone say photo time?

panda meditation: enjoying the sounds of a trickling brook
Eventually, because of time constraints (once the sun goes down, the parking lots are locked), a couple of us decided to turn around and go back and a couple decided to push through to the end. I was in the bunch that turned around, and I must say I enjoyed the chance to take a little more time and not rush as much. Not too long into the beginning of the walk, some friends suggested I take my little panda hanging from my bag and put it in pictures. What a stroke of absolute genius. Why had I not thought of it before? I think I'm going to have to start doing it everywhere now.

panda enjoying the vibrancy of sunset on a heart shaped stump
Any way, this weekend was a wonderful prelude to Thanksgiving. A chance to be with friends, make new friends and appreciate the enormous blessings that God has lavished upon me. Though my family is far away, I have been embraced and loved by many. I have so much to be thankful for.

I hope and pray that you will be reminded of what you have to be thankful for. Remembering the blessings just gives me such a brighter, lighter perspective.

I hope your Thanksgiving (if you celebrate Thanksgiving), is full of laughter and rest and delicious flavors.

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