Why we seek nature

Giant Mountain from Owl Head lookout near Elizabethtown.

Giant Mountain from Owl Head lookout near Elizabethtown. Photo by Shaun Kittle.

It is true that people enter the woods for different reasons—scientists seek to study it, climbers to scale it, hunters to stalk it and artists to emulate it. Regardless of the activity, that thing that keeps a person busy, the goal remains the same—to experience that one moment in time when something extraordinary occurs. It could be spotting a rare Bicknell’s thrush in the krummholz on Algonquin or being the first to climb the new slide on Upper Wolf Jaw. It might be taking down a buck after tracking it for hours through the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest or finally getting the colors right in that painting of a perfect mountain sunset over Osgood Pond.

I think about all of this as I watch the mist travel through the valley toward Lake Champlain. I think about how fortunate I feel to be the only one on Owl Head this day, and then I think about how important it is to have this land available for everyone to enjoy. It enriches lives, it calms nerves, and it’s great exercise. Yes, we might think differently about the activities we pursue, but in the end we are all seeking, and fighting to protect, the same thing.

As I left the trailhead and came around a bend on Route 9N, what I saw compelled me to pull over—a rainbow was straddling the road in a great, prismatic arch. As I admired it a man came out of a nearby house and stood in his front lawn, head tilted toward the sky, and a rider on a motorcycle soon stopped and joined me on the shoulder of the road. No one spoke, for we had each found the natural wonder on our own, and even though we shared that moment, that feeling of discovery still belonged to each one of us.

Shaun Kittle can be reached at shaun@denpubs.com.

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