The Ozark Trail: My First Backpacking Trip

Last weekend, I did something I didn’t really think I could do. I carried my possessions on my back and hiked 5.5 miles through the wilderness, slept in the frigid cold… and then hiked back the next day. And I didn’t die. I didn’t even see a mountain lion. Here’s how it all went down.

Trekking Hercules Glade: A.K.A. Dry Falls

And no matter how far we attempt to remove ourselves from this natural process, there is no escape. The kingdoms we build for ourselves will soon be shuttered – whether by outside force, our own doing, or the natural process of destruction and regeneration. It’s the most basic truth in existence. And yet, I seldom consider it. Because both the enormity and uncertainty are just too much for my little brain.
That is, until I find myself crackling down a trail in the Hercules Glade Wilderness in southern Missouri with my bestie, Ivy and my boo, Mike.

Finding My Path When It’s Covered in Leaves

I have a hard time knowing when to stop. Rushing through each day hoping I’ll have the stamina to complete it. It’s a race between my energy and the clock. And the sun goes down, my daughter drifts off, and I melt into a puddle on the floor.

But actually, it’s the couch. And there’s Netflix. And eating. So much eating…

And at some point – if I can muster the tiniest bit of self control – I peel myself up and plod reluctantly to bed.

This is where I found myself exactly one month ago. Only it was before lunch – I was staring at my computer – and I just felt heavy. My body was tired. My mind was exhausted. And, possibly what troubled me the most, my heart was empty. I had absolutely nothing left to give.

A Woman Alone in the Woods

When I share with a friend that I enjoy a solo hike in the woods, I’m often met with incredulous looks and questions like “Aren’t you scared?” And when I was married, the questions were more like “And your husband is okay with that?”