What Inspires You?

Most of us could answer this question in a million ways, perhaps starting with family, food, the community in which we live, a desire to help others, meaningful work, and more. Each of these things would make my list! When I stop to think of what inspires me, my mind goes to a related question – What Energizes Me?

Mountains. Mountains are where I take solace; where I rejuvenate my soul; where I hear nothing, yet the voice of persons important to me, my goals and aspirations are often at their loudest. I grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and today, find myself happily within fifteen minutes of the BR Parkway, with endless choices of hikes. With a recent move back to my home state, I began thinking about my relationship to mountains.

The first mountain I climbed, was just outside of my childhood bedroom window. The base of the Hibriten Mountain Trail could be accessed along a gravel road in my neighborhood. With no trail heads to follow, my siblings and I traversed an uneven, yet upward path to the top. The top of the mountain was like heaven to me. Not only could I see our home below but climbing the Fire Tower provided a sense of adventure and thrill. I think it was there that I first realized I love heights, as long as I feel grounded.

By the time I graduated from college, I found myself on the West Coast, exploring the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and coming oh so close to an angry rattlesnake. It was on that hike, that I was humbled by and learned to respect nature. Years later, while descending Storm Mountain, Colorado, I cradled my daughter in her front pack, under a small tree outcropping, while waiting for the downpour to pass. In Banff National Park Canada, I climbed to the Valley of the 7 Peaks, and realized that the only way to the other side of the mountain, was along a scree path, that looked like an ant trail to the naked eye. Perhaps my greatest feat, was reaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, having walked three and a half days through a rain forest, moorland and barren moonscape, to the top of the snow-capped mountain, known as Africa’s highest peak and sought after by hikers around the world.

Each mountain presents its own challenges. Climbing a mountain becomes a journey, no matter how long it takes to reach the summit. It is breath, movement, thought, working together to bring me clarity, and leave me with the desire to keep moving forward. I am grateful for the steps that I can take and realize that there are forces greater than myself calling me to find my next adventure.

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