Last year on my 25th birthday, Dave and I took a hike in Shenandoah National Park. Let me make one thing very clear: Dave and I are not hikers, and we are certainly not outdoorsmen.
However, my husband is nothing if not ambitious. He wanted to do the most notoriously difficult hike in the whole park. I had to put my birthday girl privilege to good use and insist that we do a trail at least one tier below.
As we pulled into the parking lot, my stomach dropped – there were some serious hiker types embarking on the trail that day. We unassumingly slinked out of the car hoping people wouldn’t notice our total newb-ness. I quietly tried to put on my bug spray thinking that real outdoorsmen probably prepped for the bugs long before arriving at the trail. But then other people (hiking backpacks, boots, and all) started coming to us to ask if they could use our bug spray. Boom – the Servodidio’s were marching right from novice to professionals in just a few sprays of that can!
Feeling quite proud of our bug spray planning, we embarked on our “simple” eight-mile loop.
Oops…at the first fork in the trail we took the wrong path. Before we knew it, we were four miles into the trail going the wrong direction. How it took us four miles to realize this, I will never know. That was the shortest-lived stint as the authorities on all things hiking.
Oh yeah, we also made this wrong direction realization at the same exact moment we drank the last of our water supply and consumed all of our snacks. At this point I’m thinking, “where are the ubers? Get me out of this place!”
I desperately started asking each person who passed if there were any water fountains coming up. NEWS FLASH: There are no water fountains when you are real deal hiking!
You may not be able to find modern day amenities on hikes, but there are far greater things you can find: a smile on every person’s face accompanied with a warm greeting as you pass them red-face and out of breath; the stamina within yourself to bear down and continue the rest of your eight-mile journey because dang it you came to see the waterfalls and you’re not leaving until you do; victory at the peak of the day when you realize it’s all down-hill from there, and you freaking did it!
The most important thing I found was a newfound commitment to myself. A commitment to attempt to live the healthiest year of my life.
Like our hike, it wasn’t always pretty. I managed to pack a lot into this year. I certainly ran out of steam. Thank God I had my hiking partner, encouraging me and sometimes dragging me kicking and screaming through the ruts when I just couldn’t do it on my own anymore. Thanks to the people who filled me back up by offering friendship and warm hellos. As I am staring at the base of my 26th year, I’m ready for what it may bring because my 25th year has been the healthiest, most balanced year of my life. I hope this time I remember to pack more snacks!