Adventure to South Mountain

Last Saturday, the need for a day out of cell service range and email inspired an adventure to South Mountain State Park in Connelly Springs, North Carolina. With an 80-foot waterfall, mountain streams and over 40 miles of trails, South Mountain State Park made for a perfect escape just 2 hours and 45 minutes from Carrboro. When we arrived, I breathed in the smell of the North Carolina mountains, the wet earth and old growth trees and cold rushing stream. I took in the Rhododendrons promising blossoms and warmer weather to come with spring just around the corner. 

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 Erin and Betsy rocking Arc'teryx staying warm and dry :) 

Erin and Betsy rocking Arc'teryx staying warm and dry :) 

The rainy morning misted the forests in a foggy grey. Despite the dreary weather, I felt my energy rising with the mountains skyward toward the cloudy morning light. My trail running friends took off on a twenty mile run while I laced up my boots for a hike to the waterfall and up to Chestnut Knob. Although I love to trail run too (albeit shorter distances than my friends), I am focusing on the art of slowing down these day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature reminds me not to rush. Roots and rocks on the trails forced me to move intentionally, slowing down and mindfully placing my feet on the earth. Slowing down physically helps calm my thoughts as well. After all, exploration in the outdoors is as much about exploring my inner world, listening to my thoughts flowing with the winter streams, the birds chirping, and rain drops landing on new leaves and soft earth. Being active outdoors is as much about mental health as it is physical. 

 Steps leading to the waterfall. 

Steps leading to the waterfall. 

Nature reminds me not to rush. Roots and rocks on the trails forced me to move intentionally, slowing down and mindfully placing my feet on the earth. Slowing down physically helps calm my thoughts as well. After all, exploration in the outdoors is as much about exploring my inner world, listening to my thoughts flowing with the winter streams, the birds chirping, and rain drops landing on new leaves and soft earth. Being active outdoors is as much about mental health as it is physical. 

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 Rachel running her heart out! 

Rachel running her heart out! 

 

 

Connecting to the earth in this way grounds me when I feel my life spinning ever faster and further out of my control. Feeling the roots under my boots reminded me I too am rooted in North Carolina, connected to an incredibly supportive community. I am reminded of the importance of keeping my family’s adventure outfitter alive and vibrant to help outfit people for optimal outdoor experiences in places like South Mountain State Park.  

 

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I stood still for a long time by the waterfall with my eyes closed, feeling the power of 80 feet of water crashing to a pristine pool. The boulders with sheer moss covered faces wowed me and reminded me of my dad who died at the end of July. I touched the damp moss, feeling the aliveness of the fragile, flowerless plant soft against my finger tips. 

Since my father’s passing, I feel a deeper connection with the natural world because he is a part of it. When we planted his body under the Triple Birch last summer, I knew he was returning to the earth. In his early passing he instilled in me an appreciation for the incredible beauty all around and the preciousness of each day.

 Beautiful rocks and flowing water

Beautiful rocks and flowing water

How easy it is to let the busyness of our lives obscure our true purpose and passions and the importance of nature in our lives. Accomplishment mindset is addictive but in slowing down, in appreciating the moment, in immersing myself in the natural world around me, I find gratitude and clarity. Through adventures like these I realign with my true purpose: to connect to nature and others in order to find common ground, and to be inspired by the wonders of our world so that I exude that same inspiration everywhere I go. 

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As rain and droplets from the waterfall sprinkled on my already soaked body as I stood by the waterfall, I felt connected to not just my dad but myself and the greater experience of being alive. With my feet rooted in South Mountain State Park, I felt not just connected to the earth and but to my inner self. South Mountain State Park is a place to delight in the wonder of waterfalls, streams, twisty trails, and gentle mountains. It is through moments in magical places disconnected from our everyday experiences and the chaos life that we can reconnect to what matters.

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