A weekend away: two lads purge themselves of society and take a walk in the woods
BY Music and Society Editor
AND , Senior Reporter
Two weeks ago, I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and saw the Designs for Different Futures exhibition. The exhibition consisted of conceptions and technological innovations to tell the story of the resilience necessary for what is to come in the remainder of the 21st century. One installation in particular entitled “Resurrecting the Sublime,” made by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Sissel Tolaas and Christina Agapakis, spoke to the looming devastation of the Anthropocene age in which we currently reside.
The installation was three glass walls and a white backdrop with two boulders in the center of the floor to sit on. Wafting through the air was the recreated scent of flowers that had gone extinct in the 19th century as a result of human influence. Sitting in this room on top of the rocks left me utterly speechless and before I knew it, I was wiping a tear from the corner of my eye, mourning the life that had been lost and the haunting unnaturalness of smelling the scent once more.
This experience haunted me and remained in my mind as Evan and I set out early Saturday morning for West Virginia, a state which is known for natural beauty and remoteness. Together we trekked northbound on the Appalachian trail for a brief weekend where outside distractions were minimized and the natural world was brought to the immediate foreground. For me, my phone was powered off, my boots laced and my backpack filled, setting the scene for a much-needed purge from the near-crippling stressors and responsibilities of my work and school lives.
I was immediately reminded that the natural world is unforgiving as cold stung my cheeks, rocks crunched my ankles into varying angles and the incline was so steep that I could’ve crawled. Through the physical pain, it became evident to me a little later that I was solely focused on enduring and taking in my surroundings, existing entirely in the moment. At one point in the late afternoon we were passing along a ridgeline and paused for a moment in unison, noticing the complete silence that blanketed the expansive landscape in every direction as far as the eye could see. We were alone and we were present, passing through what we did not own or control.
This sense of perspective was continued into the darkness where I valued the warmth of our little fire and the ability to sit without carrying a pack. In the distance was a twinkling city skyline and a streaming highway in a descending “s” shape, and above were the masses of constellations eons away. Both sights, one natural and the other unnatural, left me feeling equally small, reiterating my miniscule scale in the scope of this Earth.
Crossing over the West Virginia border in Virginia Sunday morning left me with a sense of accomplishment and a revitalized spirit, recentered mentally. Nature is often called a gift when calling for its preservation at the hands of human destruction. While I agree that it is a gift in its scale and grandeur, the true gift is its ability to touch us, reground us and remind us that we are but weary, brief inhabitants on this giant planet that knows and has seen more than we can ever comprehend.
A campfire is a horrible thing to waste. Especially when the temperature is in the mid 30’s, and you are tired and sore after an 11 mile hike with a 30 pound backpack on.
This weekend, I experienced a disconnect from the world. It was refreshing to know that the only problems I had to worry about were finishing the hike on time and setting up camp before sunset. Luckily, me and Edward got both of those things done with time to spare.
It put my problems that I deal with in my day to day life into perspective. From dealing with balancing my work and studies, to trying to go out and do things in my social life, to maintaining friendships with my friends back home. I find myself stressed out pretty often with all of these different things and more.
On the trail, I was happy with the things I had to worry about. Mainly because my life partially was dependent on the warmth I would get from a fire, the sustenance I would get from a warm meal and the rest I would get from the tent being set up. I even asked Edward while eating dinner “Is it possible to live like this?” simply because I was so happy and at peace with the state I found myself in.
This is why I say a campfire is a horrible thing to waste. We sat next to that campfire for hours talking about different things both troubling and humorous to us. It provided warmth, both externally and internally. Not the mention the soothing sounds of the logs cracking under the heat.
Eventually, the flame died down, as well as our energy levels, and we decided to hit the hay. Our bodies were extremely sore, so lying on our backs was one of the most blissful feelings imaginable at that moment.
Camping realigned my perspective on many things in my life this weekend, which is why I am extremely happy that I went. Both the backpacking portion and the campsite portion of the trip was a wonderful experience that I could not be more grateful for.