Something I and the rest of the general public try to avoid is to have a public meltdown.

But who am I kidding...it happens. The ugly cry in a parked car or public restroom, yelling at a completely inanimate object, other cars in traffic. I know. We hate talking about the parts of ourselves that reveal our vulnerability, our ‘shadow’, our hurt feelings. It’s not polite or accepted,

and the feeling of guilt and shame is pretty overwhelming when you scare yourself over how angry or fearful you actually are in there. 

As a hiker, I got really angry at a mountain. I mean REALLY angry. I was NOT holding back with my disdain at the most insane grade of a hill after a day of really crappy trail. I knew I didn’t want to do that climb deep down, but I went along anyway to keep up with the group (huge mistake) and
had a full on toddler meltdown on the side of it. Throwing punches, crying, yelling at the top of my lungs and using curse word combinations I hadn’t even heard of before, even foolishly hurling my trekking poles and kicking my pack down the hill....I was THAT over it. I was over the whole experience
of persevering through what felt like lifetimes, and I let Mother Earth have all of that frustration. I was angry about the crappy trail, who I was, all of the expectations I had for myself, my failure to withstand the pressure after giving myself major ego bumps for hiking numerous mountains in a variety of
weather conditions, angry at my body breaking down and never being the shape I wanted it to be. I was even angry that I had even gotten angry at any outdoor experience. I should be grateful and happy that I was so lucky to be out there, and I was just having a bad day. A really bad day.

Shortly after I finally let myself stop hiking up the damn thing and became a sad pile of me on the side of the trail, I just cried for what felt like hours alone, thankfully. A nice big emotional release that encompassed all of the life journeys I had been on up to that point, whether physical or
metaphysical; it was all a knot that needed to be worked out in its own time.
Luckily, all things must pass, so after I worked it out physically and emotionally, I just kind of sat in numb silence by myself for a minute, looking around, coming back to Earth.

What surprised me is that I don’t think i can possibly verbalize how loved I felt in that moment.
When I looked around, I saw the most incredible sunset filtering through the trees. Even the insane hillside I was on provided this hard to see view of the distant ranges I had just been on bathed in this beautiful alpine glow, which was a complete gift in that moment. Yes, I was still far
away from my destination, tired as hell and worn out from crying and beating the ground up, but that sunset was beyond words. After all of the rage, after all of that ugly anger and that emotional release, there wasn’t any guilt or shame from my choices to be real with myself and let myself have a bad day...I was heard. I wasn’t judged by that beauty I was so lucky to behold, even when I had spent so much energy judging myself for it.

The natural experience is one of shock absorption to our nervous systems; it helps us to get out of our heads and into our bodies. The value of this eternal presence is probably my favorite thing about it, which is why I believe that we crave nature. It’s a symbiotic relationship; she craves us
to be aware of it. Much like the ‘if a tree falls in the woods’ adage, how powerfully we engage in that relationship to Mother Nature can relate to our survival, and not just physically, but mentally.
I remember Earl Schaffer saying he wanted to walk off the war when he began the first thru hike in 1947; I felt like I needed to walk off everything that was stuffed inside for so long. I related to his intention that sometimes you need to be on your own in order to process. Sometimes we don’t have a say in how much we can process, but there always comes a moment where we are eventually set free from any self imposed blocks, and I think that our experience of nature can be a key to that, not just an experience to conquer it.  

So keep that in mind when on your next walk. Instead of focusing on the destination, the accomplishment, or even the journey itself, allow the walk to change  your perception in the moment, and just notice how ultimately freeing it is. As we progress further into the technological age, there is no shortage of research on how nature can heal....and I believe that this is where it all comes from. 

Here in the Blue Ridge, these mountains are ancient, which even adds to the love. I like to think that the milennia of creation these mountains have undergone in their present state is somehow holding me though this self exploration...it's a 'you can handle it, kid' kind of energy...really palpable.

But don't take my word for it...come see and experience it for yourself! Better yet, allow us to guide you there. :)