Two weeks ago, my husband and I returned from a wonderful fall trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. This was the first time we had been to that part of the country, and we traveled through Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. We journeyed with a small tour by design when we arranged our tour in January, because we wanted to be with a smaller group of people. The tour company actually asked us if we wanted to hike and how much. Since Covid, my husband and I had taken up hiking and quite enjoyed it. We attributed our getting out in the fresh air to our staying healthy during those times of the pandemic. As we registered, we had the choice of hiking 0 to 3, 3 to 5, or 5 to 10 miles per day. We thought that we could easily do 3 to 5 miles per day. In the spring, we walked on the weekdays, either on the treadmill or around the neighborhood. We then went on a car trip in May to the Deep South, where I was born, went to a wedding and visited family and friends. When we returned, summer had come, the yard work called and we didn’t hike. To add to that, the weekends were really either busy, stormy or very hot or a combination of the three. At the end of August, we went on a hiking weekend to central Pennsylvania with our son to see the elk herd and to see just how fit we actually were. We weren’t in too bad shape, but a few physical problems had crept in.
I worried that we might not be in the best physical condition to go on this trip and so, we did our weekend warrior thing up to the day before we left. When we arrived in Salt Lake City on a Sunday afternoon, we walked eight miles around the city in search of sights and a good meal. The next day, as the tours all gathered in the lobby to meet their guides and groups, we saw some people that looked like they had just come off a marathon. They looked highly competitive and eager to do a daily 15 mile hike. I shuddered at the thought of being with these people all week. I had spoken with our tour guide before we left home and I shared my anxiety with her. She seemed lovely and unconcerned. When we actually met, she was athletic in ways that I have never been and enjoyed skiing and hiking in far-flung parts of the world. Our group turned out to be a mixture of people with varying physical abilities. Some people were older, some were younger. Some were used to regular exercise and some just wanted to see the landscape. My husband and I were about in the middle. The guide was enthusiastic and somehow seamlessly accommodated everyone’s desires.
I could talk about the beautiful, amazing scenery we saw, of course because IT IS the Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone. I could say how much getting up early to observe wildlife in their natural habitat was thrilling and awe- inspiring. I could mention how much I learned about geology and God’s world, overall, and how much I learned to appreciate Him all the more because of His creation and His care and grand design for it. I could talk about the interesting people we shared our week with and how enjoyable they were and furthermore, how incredible it was that we all got along so well. We found unique jewels of restaurants and also ate, several times, like cowpokes, but that was just one of the many pleasures of the trip.
The real joy and power of this trip for me was not just experiencing these amazing places by driving past them, but engaging with them. There were several hikes where the altitude was a challenge and the rocky path was, too but I made it. Another day, a five mile hike turned into a nine mile hike, but I made it. Now, when I look at my pictures, I can say to myself, “Look at that beautiful mountain! I climbed it! Look at that amazing view! I hiked all that way to see it!” Seeing waterfalls and geysers and knowing that I made the physical effort to get there energized me in a way I can’t explain. I was so happy that I didn’t give up. Now, I really want to keep going and move forward, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually because for once in my life, I don’t doubt my abilities to accomplish goals, even if they are small and not like other people’s. The trip gave me the gift of seeing myself in a new light
#travel #self improvement #progress #nature #learning