The Great Outdoors: Part II

05 June 2013

Part Two of a three-part series for the new prints available at Whitehall Shop

Mountain Waterfall - Alluvial Fan in Rocky Mountain National Park

As a general rule, no one would describe me as "Outdoorsy." I am far more likely to get a Barnes and Noble gift card than one to Bass Pro Shops for my birthday.  However, that is not to say that I don't just adore the outdoors under the right circumstances (those circumstances being me covered head-to-toe in the kind of bug spray that could bring down a pterodactyl). 

Mosquitoes aside, I do love fresh air in my lungs and a mixture of pine nettles and gravel crunching beneath my feet.  I love the shade of tall forest trees, and the warmth of the sun above the timberline.  I love small lakes of nearly silent glassy water, and large boulders that are perfectly placed for a mid-hike lunch of peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies that always seem to taste infinitely better at altitude. 

I didn't always like the outdoors.  I used to be the girl that would focus on how many steps my feet had already taken away from the air conditioned car, instead of focusing on the wonder ahead and how many more steps there were to explore in this vast world.  I deeply regret that past perspective.

Lantern Collage Art Print -Whitehall Shop
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Once, Jonny and I were hiking up Round Mountain in the Big Thompson Canyon in Colorado.  There are two paths there.  The easy one that leads to a small CCC shelter that overlooks the canyon, and the longer steeper path that lead, supposedly, to a spring before the summit.  We had taken the easy path before a couple of times, so we decided to go for the longer climb.

The sun was very warm that day, and I was always one to find an excuse for my lack of physical fitness.  After walking up the steep slope for what felt like hours, we saw people coming down the mountain who said that the spring was not much further.  So we trudged along (correction: I trudged, Jonny hiked.  His fitness for the climb was never in question.).  At one point, we passed by some water running across the path.  Was that the spring?  Couldn't have been.  If it was, that was really uneventful. Want to keep going to see what we see?  NO! I am tired and want to turn around.

So we turned around.  On our way back down the mountain, a large thunderstorm rose up over the mountain as we ran back down the hairpin turns in the path on the large flat exposed side of the mountain (for those of you who don't speak Mountain, this is a bad situation to be in).  Once back in the car, I felt terrible that we stopped short of finding the spring, and I used the ensuing rain storm to justify that turning back had been the right thing to do (though we didn't know of the storm at the moment that I was defeating us). 

There have been plenty of moments in my life, both before and since Round Mountain where I have chosen to chicken out, and I can name most of them.  They eat away at me because they are the possibilities that I will never have resolution to.  But most of all, I remember Round Mountain, and the feeling of an adventure left unhad. 

The Great Outdoors to me symbolizes not only the beautiful world that we live in, but all of the possibilities that it brings.  We all have our home bases to keep us safe and cozy, but that safety and warmth doesn't mean much if we don't leave it every once in a while to test our mettle in the wider world.  I am not planning on backpacking around Mongolia, mind you.  But taking steps outside our comfort zone is where we reap the most rewards in the adventure of life.  And I have learned (the hard way) to stop putting up barriers. 

The lantern in the Whitehall Shop Great Outdoors collection is just a lantern.  I drew it and thought it was neat, so I created the collage from my sketch.  However, I also like to think that each piece does have some meaning, and the lantern is a reminder to me to always keep looking forward, especially in the great outdoors.  There is so much in this world to discover that will illuminate our passions and our minds and lead to rich and rewarding lives.  We just have to be willing to follow the lantern and not turn back just short of the spring. 
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