4000 Feet At A Time

It's easy to do, isn't it? Imagine that you would do more or be more if only you _______ {fill in the blank…had more money, had more time, had kids, didn't have kids, etc etc etc}. 

For us, somehow that blank got filled with "lived near the 'big' mountains" or "lived out west." Somehow we found ourselves putting off adventures until we could have BIG adventures, travel somewhere far, do something extraordinary. Somehow we dismissed what is near, what is close, as too mundane, too ordinary to qualify.

But who we are and what we are is defined by who and what we are now, in this moment. Where we are in this moment. Whether we make the most of what is here within arm's reach and have the drive and imagination to see the possibility and adventure to be had right at our fingertips. 

And, truth be told, it's not exactly like what is right outside our door is sub-par. We live in Maine, a state who bears the nickname "Vacationland" and motto "The Way Life Should Be," a state that people travel from all over the country to visit and to bask in it's beauty. We have access to rolling mountains, whitewater rivers, the great North Woods, the endless miles of rocky coastline, and that's all before even crossing the border into New Hampshire or Vermont!   

It suddenly felt ludicrous and wasteful and just plain ol' ungrateful to not be wringing every last drop of New England's bounty out of what surrounded us. We immediately re-calibrated our time and began discussing how best to begin. While we love big trips (we met while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail…neither of us are scared to put our lives on hold to hike for months at a stretch!), what we were looking to create was a habit of micro-adventure, a way to take advantage of all that New England had to offer and to teach us within the context of our regular ol' day-to-day lives.

So we landed on the obvious. New England has 67 peaks over 4000 feet and we will hike each one of them. It's not a feat for the record books or even something considered particularly ambitious by "serious" hiker standards. It's been done hundreds of times by hundreds of people.

But we aren't chasing records.

We're chasing a chance to learn what we can of ourselves and the land that we call home. To be the people we want to be, people who look around themselves with open eyes and an awareness of the gifts that surround them.

Last week was  the first of our 67 mountains. In the midst of a chilly drizzle, we began walking up Mt. Moriah in New Hampshire's White Mountains. No special equipment was necessary and all that was required of us was a couple of warm layers, a snack for the top, and a willingness to walk. But walk we did. We walked along in the mist and looked at giant fern leaves instead of computer screens, listened to the birdsong and squirrel chatter intend of the ding of our cell phones. 

 We walked along and began timidly to introduce ourselves to the land we've so callously ignored, land that offered us succor and relief despite our dismissiveness toward it. It enfolded us in it's fecundity and breathed new life into our tech-weary souls.

Our first of 67 mountains, our first of 67 lessons, learned 4000 feet at a time.