In 2016, Marc, Luke and I took a cruise to Alaska. There were so many adventures there! Salmon fishing, for instance. Luke caught a chum, Marc caught a little itty bitty baby that was promptly returned to its home. Horseback riding was particularly adventurous when they ran into a bear. Luke was at the back of the line with a red shirt on as a lady insisted on getting pictures while the bear ambled towards them. The guide promptly moved them along. A helicopter ride to a glacier was one of the best highlights. I was regaled with their stories.
Me? Well, I went on the bus trips with the others less physically inclined. I called it the “senior bus,” and I made some sturdy friendships there.
But now, it’s 2019, and I am living my transformed life. We are in the Great Smoky Mountains and I wanted my own adventures. Yesterday we went zip lining. I cannot say that it was particularly easy. I was good with the “hanging like a marionette part,” but I did have a propensity to swing sideways or even backwards a few times—and the braking was a challenge. Still, I had game, and I did it, and it was ridiculously fun. Seven zip lines, four and a half miles and not a senior bus in sight.
Today was my choice of activity and we went on a four-mile hike on the Porters Creek trail. It was one of the lesser-known trails, so there weren’t many people on it. The creek—and trail, come to that—was very rocky. It was only a 700-foot rise, but the rocks made it somewhat hard going, especially towards the end. We went by old rock walls, and a cemetery from the late eighteen hundreds. The most important and intricate headstone was for a young woman who died in 1903 at the age of twenty-five. The saddest one was for a little baby who lived her life over the course of four days.
We saw whitewater as we crossed a “somewhat perilous footbridge”—written commentary not our own—and made our way to a small, high waterfall. We talked and laughed and sweated profusely. I pondered why there were only giant yellow butterflies in one part of the forest and black and turquoise ones in another, as if they were in different sororities, or fraternities as the case may be. Perhaps they were all just fairies after all. I sang a bit too, and we took so many pictures.
I am in the world, a part of it, instead of sitting in a chair and looking out the window longingly. Yep, my feet are a bit sore, and the rocks were a pretty big challenge. Three years ago, my eyes wouldn’t have been there to pick up all the wonders, to feel the triumph of being able to hike and enjoy, rather than not hike at all—or worse, to hike and endure.
Every change I made in my life, every bit of rewiring I had to do with my brain and my body—it was for this. It was for this and it was so worth it. As I am writing this, I am smiling and wondering where we will meander tomorrow.