His – North Chagrin Reservation – Squire’s Castle

20170312_103008Frigid, blustery and gray – this week’s hike was very symbolic of my emotions this time of year. I don’t bring this up to a lot of people, but I feel like this is a very appropriate forum to pull the curtain back and give some depth and meaning of my love for the outdoors.  A little over two years ago, on March 7th 2015, I sat in a hospital waiting room and was told that my mom, who was fifty years old, had stage four cancer. Eight days later, on March 15th 2015, she was gone.

Life can never prepare you for those words. To lose a parent at any age is rough. To lose a parent at fifty years old, in what is considered to be the “golden years”, is devastating. Two years later, I still struggle to process what happened. Anyone who knows me on a personal level knows how optimistic I am. This week I’ve been down in the dumps on and off. I think about my mom passing away every day. It’s mentally crippling. For anyone who says it gets easier with time is full of shit. Life continues on, but it never gets easier.

Hiking to me has been an outlet. I didn’t know it until I met Tara, but the outdoors and stomping around in nature really do help ease the soul. I’ve never been a spiritual person. Hiking has given me a sense of reprieve. I walked around angry for almost a year and a half. I didn’t have a proper outlet to clear my head. If anything, hiking, and then this blog, have given me a space to creatively clear the inner workings of my brain. I’m fortunate to have a way to express myself. I’m grateful everyday that I found Tara and we’ve started this journey together.

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Speaking of starting, Tara and I started our hike this week by climbing into Squire’s castle.  It’s essentially a stone shell. It’s a drafty stone structure that has no doors or windows, just frames where they should be. We checked it out quickly and felt a little intrusive as there was some sort of photo shoot taking place inside. (We never did figure out exactly who was being photographed, no one was dressed for the occasion.)

We struck out on the trail. Tara had promised me a relatively easy hike and enticed me with food afterwards… guys I think she’s on to how to motivate me. We went up, and up, and up, and up, oh and then we went up. We were hundreds of feet above the castle at this point and the trail we originally sought to be on wasn’t in sight. It didn’t matter though. One, I pride myself on somewhat of an eidetic memory. Two, I was okay with being away from it all for a while. We wove our way back and forth, deeper and deeper into the forest. The windstorm we had last week toppled so many trees.

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It’s really breathtaking to see the power of nature. What can be the most rewarding thing can also be one of the most frightening. To see these mammoth trees toppled amongst each other while others stood tall was mesmerizing. It left me deep in thought.

I would encourage anyone who is having a tough time to take a few minutes to walk through the wilderness. We all need serenity and time to gather ourselves. Avid hikers can attest, no matter how much company you have, you can always be alone outdoors. The simple task of putting one foot in front of the other and being in the moment allows you to go to another place in your mind. I’m always thankful for Tara being by my side on the trail. However, in between our usual laughter and banter, I was deep in reflective thoughts and memories.

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In our walk, I came to this conclusion; like the toppled trees sometimes you get knocked over. There’s nothing you can do about it. All you can do sometimes is grin and bear it. Sometimes you have to embrace the frigid, blustery and gray weather. Just make sure that you keep working towards the warmth that you know will eventually come.

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