The first multi-day hiking trip I took this season was in Kings Canyon National Park. Looking on a map, Kings Canyon has got to have some of the best names for its features. Two that immediately catch your eye are Evolution Valley and the ever-uninspiring Disappointment Peak. For my own trip, I chose to hike along Paradise Valley. The trail begins relatively flat until you start the climb to Mist Falls, a magnificent waterfall 5 miles in from the trailhead. Mist Falls is yet another feature that certainly lives up to its name.
While on this trip I met two young hikers who had come up to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend. We ended up hiking a good ways together and spending some time around the campfire that night talking about everything from top five favorite movies to personal philosophies. I asked them what they loved most about being out on the trail. Any hiker you ask will give a slightly different answer but a common thread connects them all: the exhilarating feeling of freedom. It amazed me how comfortable I felt around them, but after thinking more about it, I realized that it was not that extraordinary. For the most part, whomever I have met in the backcountry has been kind, aware, and on a similar quest: to get away from routines for a while and have an adventure.
From these two individuals I not only received suggestions such as: use chicory root to make delicious tea, or a few titles of must-see documentaries to watch, but was reminded of the magic of the outdoors. It can bring people together and slow them down long enough to allow true connections to be formed.