Do you ever get the urge to escape for the weekend? Sometimes, when nature calls, we must listen. Instead of running around the city for Halloweekend, I decided to pack up my bags and head to the woods for some life detox. I was motivated to completely shut down for the weekend and immerse myself into the beauty that exists when you are present with nature and good company.
Included in this blog are a few lessons I learned while camping in Shenandoah Valley this past weekend in Virginia. Just a 3 hour drive from Baltimore City, I highly recommend it for anyone looking to make a getaway for an inexpensive and rejuvenating weekend trip.
Lesson numero uno from the weekend.
Keep it simple
Excited and anxious to get on the road, I found that this camping trip's packing list was prioritized as food first, camping gear second. We had grandiose plans on what to bring and how this was going to be the most epic weekend getaway. We later laughed at ourselves when we realized many essentials were left behind, meanwhile, I definitely left room in my backpack for my Hindu deity statue, Ganesha. We had brought snacks, booze, copper mugs, tea kettle and grill, cute little battery operated lanterns, plenty of dark chocolate and desserts yet we was missed packing chairs to sit on, marshmallows for our smores, utensils, and what inspired our vegan camping menu, the meatless hot dogs.
Before we left for our road trip to the mountains, I picked out a card from my quote card box and thought what it said was so appropriate to the conditions of our overpacked vehicle.
"Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials" -Lin Yutang
Definitely need some work on this one, Yutang.
Karma is real
Before leaving for the weekend our group of friends made a pack not to use our phones for the weekend. We were all excited in theory, yet reluctant when it was put into practice. One of our friends wasn't asked but volunteered to become the phone police even before we left. "Isn't it no phones weekend guys?! Finally after arriving to the campsite, we all decided to stand in a circle and synchronize turning the power button off on our phones. It was 2:30 pm and we tucked our cyber worlds away. From that act, we all established a greater sense of presence. After a beautiful 3 hour hike up to Mary's Rock, we returned to the car. In that moment it was like this muscle memory of wanting to grab my phone. I recognized myself reaching and immediately stopped myself. A moment later I hear, "Taylor!" A yelp that had a "you're in trouble" tone written all over it. Yes, in that moment, our phone police man was caught in the act of turning his phone on!
About an hour later, said phone police was also put on fire duty. A flashlight was another one of the essentials that we neglected to pack so Taylor insisted on using his phone again as a flash light to find twigs as a fire starter. Within a few minutes our fire was lit and we rejoiced in the feeling of warmth as we began to heat up our dinner for the evening.
I can remember staring over at the flames and thinking about how quickly and intensely the fire was growing. Within that same moment, Taylor jumps up off of the wooden picnic table and dashes over to the fire and yells, "my phone!"
Taylor placed his phone on the grill attached to the fire pit to help him see what he was doing. Taylor also forgot to take his phone with him once the fire was actually burning.
What a beautiful lesson happened in that moment. Karma said, no Taylor, you broke the phone rules for the weekend, and now we must bbq your phone for good. Nature took control and taught us all to respect and appreciate the beauty of what's around us vs getting lost in the vortex of our devices.
The view is worth the climb
In our fast paced world that is consistently satisfying for those who beg for immediate gratification, we lose sight of the sense of accomplishment that comes from something as simple as climbing a mountain with our own two feet. To take the time out of your busy routine to get your feet stomping through leaves, dirt and rock, you find a greater connection to the world that exists beyond your iphone and the petty dramas we easily get absorbed in. In the mountains and on the trails you give yourself the opportunity to reconnect to the rawness of being human. You get into your body and witness it work to strive and reach for something. As you gaze down at what is right in front of you, you get to observe the finer details of each step that you take. There is a primal quality that comes with getting back to nature.
We walked rigorously up the mountain which was a steady incline all the way to the summit. Winded and thirsty after over an hour of hiking, we reached the lookout point. The panoramic views of the mountains were stunning. Without talking, we all found our designated rock to sit on as we looked out into the distance. I sat in solitude and serenity thinking about how utterly perfect the moment was. The image of the mountains fainting into the distance, the silouette of birds soaring in front of the bright sun, the trickling light that glowed over smiling faces and the way the clear blue sky touch the peak of the autumn colors. The reward soon replaced the struggle it took to get there.
My biggest takeaway from this experience is that yet, the harder the climb, the greater the view. Anything that is worth it, isn't easy.
This past year has yielded so many revelations. In the past month alone I've felt like my eyes have opened. I got to that point after big hand slapped me in the face and said, "wake up." It feels that now I'm being called to get back to myself. I was called to the woods, to get back to the simplicity of what it means to be me.
Sometimes we lose sight of what we value and what we in so many ways crave when we are distracted by the hustle and bustle of our daily routine. I get it, it is easy to get all caught up. The goal is to of course recognize when we're in the trap and quickly do something that fulfills our souls needs. We pursue our physical health through heading to our scheduled yoga class and have our meals all planned out for the day, even sometimes the week. We value the need to accomplish our work tasks and also see the importance of putting our friends, coworkers, business partners, children, spouses and family member's needs before our own. We live in a world of contentment and disconnect. We thrive on how many instagram likes we have or how many networking events we've attended in the last month, yet we barely ever pause to take a moment to tap into how we're feeling, what are we currently seeking, what do we feel like we're lacking or avoiding?
We've lost sight of our truest essence. We have forgotten in the midst of our almond milk chai lattes, vegan hot dogs and lululemon yoga pants, what is really important. That is of course, being connected to ourselves and our world.
I laid with my eyes closed, while the charcoaled wood from the fire crackled and popped into extinction. Without a knowing of time, and disconnected from the world that existed behind the screen of my phone, I was able to be exactly where I was. We need more of what wakes our souls up. What gets our senses ignited, our feet moving and our hands dirty. Outside of our industrial jungle lies the real world. A place where we can feel every moment of sunshine and cloud, where we can smell the change of the seasons and witness in awe over the transformation that time creates to our environment.
Nature offers the perfect background music for self inquiry. I found myself pondering and was able to witness the response to my own thoughts. This weekend replenished my spirit and reawakened my mind. As we sat around the campfire and even spent time walking the trails, our conversations just prospered with creative thoughts and ideas. I felt inspired and clear.
Sometimes we just need to escape.
Get back to the woods and get back to yourself. Get rooted and look out into the world. See all of it's small details and grand splendors. Wake up and fall asleep with the rise and fall of the sun. Build a fire with your bear hands to keep yourself warm. Get back to the simplicity it brings when your main focus is taking care of your basic needs.
In a world where we are driven to constantly disconnect, take time for your next weekend getaway to be in harmony with nature and reconnect to what your soul desires.
Check out our blog post on Camping: Plant Based Recipes for your next woodland adventure!