As a child, Labor Day weekend gave me the feeling of being pulled between two worlds. I wanted to soak up the final few hours of summer and freedom, and yet the inevitability of school and backpacks and homework loomed, but with it the hope of a new beginning. Labor Day weekend meant enjoying the final moments of one season while preparing for the start of the next.
This Labor Day weekend Andrew and I joined our friends Elliott and Lauren for two days of roughing it in the woods: camping, hiking, peeing behind trees. We drove into the mountains Friday evening and set up camp in the dark. Saturday morning, after filling up on oatmeal and French press coffee, we began the first of two hikes planned for the day: Mount Pleasant. Andrew and I had hiked it on a previous camping weekend, and the views are stunning. On a clear day, this is what you’ll see:
However, after hiking 3-ish miles to the top this Saturday, this is was our view:
Heavy fog everywhere. Womp womp.
We finished the hike, ate lunch at our campsite, then started our second hike of the day: Cold Mountain. This hike is an approximately six-mile loop with nice overlooks on the way to an open meadow with beautiful mountain views all around.
We did encounter some lingering fog, but thankfully we still were able to steal a few glimpses of those beautiful blue mountains that I love.
Back at camp, with achy bodies from 12.5 miles of hiking, we cleaned up as best we could and started cooking dinner. Just as we put the steaks on the fire, we heard the rain rolling in. At the threat of not being able to cook the steaks, Andrew sprung into Eagle Scout mode in a way I’ve never seen. “Tarp! Someone grab the tarp! Two tall sticks! Twine! Tent stakes!” Before the rain could touch our fire, Andrew had constructed a shelter for us with a tarp hung over a rope (strung between two tree branches), with two corners held up by large sticks, which were secured to the ground with tent stakes and twine. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture because, well, it was pouring rain and very dark at this point, but suffice it to say we were all thoroughly impressed. We ate our steaks (which were unbelievably delicious after hiking all day) as the fire roared and water rushed under our feet–because, hey, we were still outside in a torrential downpour– and we laughed at how disgusting we all felt covered in sweat and mud, and life was very good.
In the morning I woke early and hiked up the Appalachian Trail a bit to catch the sunrise.
It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a good sunrise–the colors, the stillness of the morning, the promise of a new day.
For me this Labor Day weekend evoked that childhood feeling of being torn between two worlds. On Friday I wrapped up six years working as a youth minister. It was a time full of joy and challenges and working with people that I love, but like every season, it had to come to an end to make way for something new. Today is the start of a new season for me as I pursue a career in personal training. For the next few months I will be a full-time student preparing for the certification exam, and while I am nervous about venturing into the unknown (and yes, giving up a paycheck for a period), I am thrilled to embark on this journey.
The sun is rising on the first day of a new season for me, and I am giddy about the possibilities of what it may hold.