It only took 10 minutes for the view to disappear, 10 minutes for the bright autumn leaves decorating Giant Mountain to be enveloped in a cloud of mist. I witnessed the spectacle from the rocks of Owl Head lookout, and eagerly watched as the sunlight became a filtered haze of its former self and the wind picked up, causing glistening, mote-sized droplets of water to dance before me.
“This is why I do this,” I thought as the mist continued along the range, consuming Rocky Peak Ridge. “This is something worth beholding.”
For me, a nice view is simply a destination, a milestone along a trip through the woods. The 2.5 mile trail to Owl Head lookout is interesting in its own right. With its little waterfalls, wooden bridges, open hemlock-dominated forests and mossy ravine, it is about as scenic as anyone could ask for. But, as much as I enjoyed the journey, it is that one moment, when everything changed, that stands out to me the most.
I have been asked what it is about nature that appeals to me, why I would rather take to a trail than a shopping mall, especially on a rainy day, and the answer is never a simple one. It is a fair question, for sure, but an honest response is multi-tiered—I go into the forest to learn, to challenge myself, to gain perspective and to relax. But there was something that came before all of that, something the mist-shrouded mountains reminded me of—a sense of discovery.
From my first memories of the outdoors to my latest outing, I have found that there is always a feeling of exploration and adventure in the forest, even on some of our most well-worn paths. It is why, I think, so many people are drawn to nature, and why some of us feel the need to return to it as often as possible.
Shaun Kittle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.