Lone Tree Hill

Lone Tree Hill

Emotional turmoil drives me crazy.

I helplessly search for ways to fix a problem that I have no control over.  My head spins out of control working through infinite variables and options.  Why did she say that? Why did he not return my message?  Are they busy or blowing me off?  Did I do something silly? Was something I said taken out of context?  Did I have something gross in my teeth?

In the old days I would wait it out until I could get more information – a glance, body language, tone of voice – then act accordingly to solve the problem.  I would move on with only minor inconvenience.

The information age ups the ante and changes the rules.  We communicate instantly, but our tone, nuance and personality are not included.  It’s a recipe for confusion and doubt, often paired with a heavy dose of staring at the phone searching for meaning.

Nature has an uncanny ability to cut through that nonsense and set me back on track.

Cold winds blow through my jacket.  Fresh air slaps my face before filling my nose with the sweet scents of spring.  A singular view comes out of nowhere to stop me in my tracks.  I stare for a while, my brain reboots and I feel freedom.

That awakening feeling is miraculous, and it happens a lot when I go hiking.  This week I share one of those moments, experienced in the Dolly Sods Wilderness, a jewel in the West Virginia mountains.

Wilderness areas offer access but no maintained facilities.  Entry is at your own risk, and requires more than a bit of confidence in the outdoors.  As I navigate my Civic over the rugged, twisted and rutted entrance “road”, I notice a gnawing sense of isolation as the forest surrounds me.  I remind myself that I am well prepared and my car is in great shape, but still I look around for signs of other people.

My mind drifts from the road to my new daughter and back.  I’m on my first camping trip since her arrival, so my emotions are swirling.  I’m doing what I love, but I’m also missing valuable time with my girls. The things that I usually seek out (isolation and immersion in Nature) are now giving me mixed signals.

I pull over to get some fresh air.  My boots sink into the soft earth as I venture into the brush.  I shiver a little in the crisp wind, moving faster to get the blood flowing.  A glassy brook tinkles beside me, flowing towards a clearing.  I follow its braided path to a view that I will never forget.

A single Flowering Crabapple tree interrupts a wide horizon full of forested mountains.  The clouds have parted just above it, casting warm sun rays over the scene.  The brook shines in the reflected sky as it flows to the tree.  My soul fills with joy and an involuntary smile crosses my face.  I am alone, yet I feel peaceful and secure. I sense that my girls are doing fine, wanting me to enjoy my moment before returning home to them.  Peace.

Thank you for sharing this experience with me.  Please share this with your friends and return next week for another photographic journey!  In the meantime, please visit my website to see “Lone Tree Hill” and many other mountain photographs!

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