Zealand Mountain – 6/15/19

Hi folks 🙂

Happy Sunday!

It’s my birthday weekend (ok, real talk, birthday month). My actual birthday was Friday the 14th but I went for my annual birthday hike on Saturday! I wanted to pick a peak that I’m absolutely head over heels for, which isn’t that difficult because I totally dig the mountains. But, I digress, some peaks are more loved than others.

Insert Zealand Mountain.

Zealand was my 4th hike and 10th summit when I began hiking the NH 48 back in 2016. Zealand was the hike where I distinctly remember choosing to pursue hiking the 48 4000 footers. I blame Zeacliff for it all. You’re pretty much on top of the world, or you feel like it. Here’s a throwback from 2016:

Yesterday marks round four for Zealand, and I still love this hike as much as the first time! I was happy to hike with my friend Kaylee and her pup Brodie again. I’m really working on talking Kaylee into hiking the 48, tee-hee! Wish me luck because Owl’s Head just never sounds appealing!

While the summit itself has no view, Zeacliff, Zealand Falls, and the summit sign 10/10 make up for this. The best summit sign of all the 48 in my humble opinion. I really hope it never changes! Just over here hugging trees… again.

Yesterday’s hike was another mixed bag hike while the mountains transition from Winter to Spring to Summer. While I managed to pull off shorts and a tank all day, we were blessed with a random 5’x5′ patch of snow, lots of muddy goodness, very very large puddles ft. tiny rocks for precise foot placement (or just walk right through), moose poops, and bugs galore.

But really though, the bugs. I’ve never EVER experienced them being this bad. Most definitely got some extra protein yesterday, and even found one in my eye after. Even being doused in picaridin and an essential oil mix didn’t help much. But don’t worry, I rocked a headnet for the last half hour #noshame. The black flies and gnats don’t bug me a ton but horseflies = no thank you. Although Kaylee was definitely NOT a fan. At all. Sorry I subjected you to bug hell yesterday Kaylee – forgive me 😉

Another exciting thing from this hike was I met two AT hikers! One is a NOBO (Northbound) thru hiker and the other a section hiker working on the NH AT section. I love meeting section/thru hikers and talking with them about their experience and favorite parts of the trail!

Every time I head to the mountains lately I just feel this sense of calm. It’s almost in-explainable. Everything is so present moment. My thoughts are present and I’m focused on walking and walking some more. It’s me, the trail, whoever I’m hiking with, and other hikers. While I can choose to process things going on in my life, I’ve found my mindset has shifted to where I almost just subconsciously process and don’t actually think that much while hiking (other than what’s going on during the hike of course!). Trail time just facilitates it automatically.

With the increased sense of being very present-moment minded when hiking, I’ve noticed I tend to notice more of the nature surrounding me. Flowers, birds, butterflies, wildlife, trees, spiderwebs, and little streams in the woods. Things that I may have noticed before but didn’t give much thought to – they now fascinate me and my brain likes to look at them and ponder and I just find myself smiling looking at flowers and trees in the middle of the woods. One thing adventuring into the wilderness has surely taught me is the little things really do matter, they matter a lot, and they influence us in ways we sometimes aren’t even consciously aware of.

The external environment isn’t the only thing I’ve noticed to have an increased awareness of. It’s also how I feel my body moving while I walk. It’s how the rocks feel under my feet and when the trail terrain changes from rockier to dirt I get a smile on my face because it feels cushy. But when I’m faced with a rock scramble I get excited because I love to climb! This whole hiking thing has brought such a sense of awareness to my being – both external and internal.

It’s one of the most, if not the most, grounding feelings I’ve experienced in my life.

And I don’t plan to let go of this feeling anytime soon. Rather, I’m going to pursue the heck out of it. I want to feel it, all of it.

“The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask.” ― Nancy Newhall

XO,S

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