Emma June Grosskopf

I told Matthew Howard when I was planning to meet up with him on Bear Spirit Mountain that I wasn’t fully equipped for the Grand Tour of the site.

Namely, I don’t own hiking boots.

I have rain boots, snow boots, thigh-high boots, red boots, black boots and heeled boots. I have Victorian-era-style lace-up boots. I have gold cowboy boots. But no hiking boots.

In addition to my lack of proper hiking equipment, I just generally would not categorize myself as an Outdoors Person.

You know how there are outdoor cats and indoor cats? I’m an indoor cat all the way.

It’s not that I dislike nature. I have an appreciation for the birds and the bees and all that, but it’s the actual communing with the nature that I usually try to avoid. I’m not a kid anymore. I don’t make a habit out of mucking about in the woods or playing in creeks.

On Saturday however, I spent the majority of the day outdoors on a mountain, stepping over brambly bushes, trying not to have a twisted-ankle incident, ducking to avoid low-hanging branches, taking pictures and, in a surprising way, finding myself having a good time outside, even though I was freezing my bum off hiking on a mountain in snow boots.

Honestly, it reminded me of my childhood back in Fredericksburg, where my brothers, cousins and I would run around in the woods and the creek in our backyard, not caring about how cold it was or that thorny bushes were clinging to our hand-me-down coats and gloves. It reminded me about how my mom would put a laundry basket out in the garage and tell us to put all of our wet or muddy stuff in it so that she could wash them, and so that we wouldn’t tramp the dirt all around the house.

That didn’t always work, but it was a good thought, Mom.

As I was there on the mountain Saturday with Matthew Howard and his wife Ingrid, I had 2 important revelations. The first was that I was learning about some of the rich history of the people that stood on the same ground that I was, only thousands and thousands of years ago.

That’s a kind of power that not many people get to experience. It’s a strange feeling, like you’re stepping into another time period. The only real evidence that the year is 2019 was the camera I was holding and the occasional sight of power lines on the landscape.

And the texts from my mother, who knew I would be on a mountain that day, detailing the evils of peyote.

The second experience was that I was enjoying myself.

No, hiking on a mountain for a couple hours one Saturday doesn’t make me Joe Nature, but it served as a wake up call. I’m here, in this county (and this state, for that matter), and it’s pretty beautiful. There’s a lot to appreciate that I won’t be able to appreciate from the couch in my apartment. I’m not a child anymore (not really, anyway), but that doesn’t mean that I can’t muck around in the woods like I did in my formative years.

But maybe I should invest in a pair of hiking boots first.   

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