Monthly Archives: April 2014

Backpacking Grayson Highlands

I spent Easter Weekend, and a few days extra, backpacking through Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. Having never been to this area I was not sure what to expect. I had seen pictures from friends’ trips and looked online but that still didn’t prepare me for the experience. Some highlights included visiting with wild ponies, splashing in creeks, bushwhacking, hiking the the highest point in Virginia and eating delicious food. At many points I felt as though I ways on another content, not just a few hours away from my home. The rocky terrain and the vast open valleys made me feel as though I was trekking through the set of The Hobbit. We spent 4 days in the backcountry, picking up and moving camps every night. Each new day came with its own new environment. One day we could only see trees in the distance and the next we were hiking through a mossy forest covered by the canopy of evergreens. One day we had to hike a ways for water and the next day we were swimming in a creek. It was rewarding to know that I was able to see all of this beauty by foot, that I had walked, crawled, hiked, climbed and traversed every mile. On the last day we pulled out the map to figure out where we started, days before, and it was now a peak in the distance.

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On our last night we ended up sleeping at Wise Shelter, the 500 mile marker along the Appalachian Trail. There must have been 30 hikers staying in that area and we actually had the opportunity to feed a pair of hikers some dinner. That night we saw people of all ages and all walks of life set up camp together. Some had accents and some didn’t, some where alone and some were in pairs, and some seemed like experienced backpackers and others appeared to be beginners. It was entertaining to witness their community that they had all formed. Many had been hiking together for weeks now, and others had just met at the town before. They all supported of each other, encouraged each other, and shared their belongings and stories with each other. I was glad I got to be a part of this literal milestone on their journey.

How cool is it that nature, and the simple act of hiking along trail has the power to change peoples lives and create such an incredible community? 

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P L A Y

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This weekend I bowled, climbed an alpine tower, flew in the air connected to wires and a harness, picked up trash from a local river, played kickball, shared a meal with friends, roller bladed and did homework outside. I got to play. At the end of the day, when I hopped into the shower I could see dirt running off of me, little scratches appearing on my arms and legs and splinters on my hands. I felt like I was nine again and my mom put me straight into the bath after spending an entire day outside. This weekend was perfect. The sun was shining, it was warm, all of my friends were in town, and it was just what I needed.

On Sunday evening, when my weekend began to wind down, I realized how much of a gift it is to simply play. To lay in the grass, to get too much sun on my shoulders,to fly through the air,  to scream of excitement while I tried to remember how to rollerblade, to eat tacos with friends, to slide into second base during kickball, to get my clothes muddy. What a gift, and what a gift to have friends to do all of those things with.

Weekends like that can be hard to come by at the end of the semester. The weather gets better, but the homework gets harder. As I look at both the weekly forecast and my weekly schedule, it looks as though I will be inside, appreciating April showers, and turning in assignments. I am holding on to this past weekend, cherishing those moments, and using the motivation of having more just like it to get my homework done.

30 by 30

30 by 30. A list of 30 things I would like to accomplish by the time I am 30

I have actually been working on this list for a while now and many bloggers I follow have similar list. I wanted to make sure these were all things that I truly wanted to do before I am 30, not just before I died. It was hard differentiating this from a bucket list but, these are all things I decided I should do in my twenties. I am 20 years old which is the perfect time to make this list. I have exactly 10 years to accomplish these 30 things. It is my hope that through doing these things I grow and challenge myself. If this is what my next 10 years are going to look like…I am pretty excited about it.

1. Skydiving

2. Buy my own car

3. Fall in Love

4. Finish knitting a scarf

5. Get off my parents payroll

6. Run a half marathon and/or a triathlon

7. Go scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef

8. Find a Job I love

9. Snowboard out West

10. Get a professional massage

11. Go on a solo backpacking trip for at least a week

12. Decorate my own office

13. Eat Gelato in Italy

14. Make money with my Blog

15. Give a motivational speech

16. Start a garden

17. Get a Henna tattoo in India

18. Cut my hair short

19. Drink Margaritas with my parents on Wrightsville Beach

20. Eat a fish I caught

21. Drink Wine in Napa

22. Live Abroad for at least a few months

23. Get lasik eye surgery

24. Host an adult dinner party

25. Visit Grand Canyon

26. Kayak the through the Everglades

27. Sit on a nude beach

28. Purchase a piece of local artwork

29. Refurbish a piece of furniture

30. Go parasailing

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Lets hope that when I am 30 I still have as much spunk and personality that I do in this picture from my 20th Birthday.

Love the Ones You’re With

In an attempt to live life more like a fisheye lens, with a wider view of the world around me, this week I spent time trying to appreciate and love on the ones around me. This week, I celebrated my friend’s 21st Birthday, caught up with old friends while sitting in the sunshine, had 2 froyo dates, coordinated all of my roommates to eat dinner at the same time and wrote my closests friends some words of encouragement. However, I still wish I could have done more. More for the people that stand by my side, make me laugh, humble me and encourage me. There isn’t enough room on one index card to tell my friends just how much I appreciate them.

On Wednesday I had the privilege of listening to Chris Gragtmans speak as a park of his “Live Your Dreams” tour. One of the things he stressed the most was the importance of surrounding yourself with good people. He projected this quote on the screen:

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn

This week, taking the time to reflect on my friendships opened my eyes just a little bit wider. I realized just how much uniqueness each of my friends brings to my life and to the lives of others. Honestly, my parents raised me but, my college friends are the ones that helped me grow up. They shared their culture, humor, fashion, hobbies and their lives with me. So much of who I am has been influenced by, like the quote says, the 5 (maybe a few more) people I spend the most time with. I am grateful that these have been incredible influences and have attributed nothing but positive aspects to my life.

Hope I have encouraged you all to reflect on your friendships.