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A walk in the woods

November 16, 2010

By Callie Stevens, Staff Writer

Photo by Skye Butler

This past week, the Discovery students started the land pursuits section of the semester with a three-day backpacking trip. We went to the Cohutta Wilderness in Blue Ridge. The trail was 13 miles and followed the Jakes River, a famous fly fishing river. The trail itself is rather easy for the level of experience the group has. So, our minds were left to float with only the care of the river crossings and the beauty around us.

The trail was flat for the majority of the hike and crossed the river 18 times. This was my first experience river crossing with packs on. The average pack weighs 25 to 40 pounds, so crossing a knee-deep river is quiet different with all the extra weight. The crossings certainly increased the risk in the hike, because if we fell, our packs and the gear inside would get wet -especially bad on a cold night. So, the river crossings increased our awareness of what we were doing.

At the beginning of the river crossing I picked up a walking stick to use for extra balance. There were many times when the force of the water almost pushed me backwards.

I would make sure one foot was set on the bottom of the river. Then, I would carefully slide my other foot over to set it, but I found my foot on a large rock that was slippery. I would slide my foot around trying to find the edge of the rock before my one foot slipped, which would result into me falling into cold water. Then, I would find the edge of the rock with my foot and get it settled so I wouldn’t fall. Almost every river crossing was like this where we snaked our way across the river taking each step with care.

Once we got past all the river crossings, which ended up being on our last day of the trip, we were able to be amazed at nature’s natural beauty during the fall. As the trail climbed away from the river and to the ridge where we had parked, we were able to see the trees in all of their glory of the leaves changing to the fall’s natural colors. As we looked about we were captured by auburn colors that would take anyone’s breath away.

The trail was a steady climb at this point, which allowed me to let my mind wonder instead of focusing on the trial. I thought about how peaceful the moment was. I was surrounded by some of my best friends in the middle of the woods with only the sound of our feet on the ground and the natural wood sounds of birds chirping, squirrels running on the leaves and the wind whistling through the trees. I closed my eyes and listened to the peaceful noises and wondered why people would want to live in the middle of cities. The woods provide a peaceful safe haven for the mind, body and soul.

I watched the mountains roll around us and thought back on the trip and the semester. With only two weeks left in the semester for the Discovery students, we continue to be immersed in the woods, which provided us with the peace needed to allow us to grow as students, educators and individuals as a whole.


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