“I WENT to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” In these words of Henry David Thoreau, he wanted to live a simple life with only what was essential to life and chose his own path to walk. In nature, in the woods and the mountains, people become free. When was the last time you ventured into the deep forest? When was the last time you set your foot on the top of the mountains?
I stood still staring into the map. Beside it lay the entrance into the mountains with no end in sight. As I took the first step of my journey, the cool shadows of the oak branches welcomed me in from the humid summer air. The weather was pleasant; the wind graciously brushed through the mountain then swept me around my cheek, but I was only its passing encounter. The dry smell of dust from the cars parking was no more. The colors around me changed, and I felt isolated. I suddenly heard a faint cry of a bird unknown and unseen in the distance echoing through the vast green. I realized that I was far away from home.
The water rushed down to the riverbed, carving away the rocks in its path. It let out a strong, continuous sound. Underneath the rocks form puddles, and the thriving patches of moss shows the time that has passed. A stone figure stood still, as if it was taking watch over the river.
Other hikers possessed an air of relaxation with them. They seemed to have time to spare. There were lone hikers who silently make their way to the top and families, resting. Many were seniors who seem very solemn. I received the feeling that this was not their first time on this mountain. One of them, a middle-aged man who seemed to enjoy hiking called it the way to live life. He told me the way around the mountain as if he was reading the back of his palm. An old woman cherishes what the mountain had to offer. She believes that drinking from the mountain’s streams and breathing its fresh, crisp air would help her to stay healthy.
“Many think that the water from the mountains healing powers.” Nature’s gift to us was overflowing.
The road before me and the world around me changed as I walked on, and so did the shadows over my face as the sun went. On the quiet riverbeds, I rested my anxiety. Most of the time I felt alone, and the silence of the woods seemed to be watching my every move, listening to my every thought. The road started to narrow, and I felt the woods closing in around me-the trees scratching my legs. There were less people; I had not seen a face for the last hour. It was just the sound of the wind and the cry of a crow, and the loud sound of my footsteps resonating throughout the mountain. I realized that I had thrown myself into a place of solitude, silence, where I start to view life in a simple way, away from society and the city behind me, where I only have a modicum of freedom.
I could tell I was close to the top. Looking up, I was able to get a full view of the sky. I soon caught a glimpse of the great stone walls among the branches. They were immovable forces against the fierce wind. The distant mountain range, coated with clouds, started to come into view. Each step started to feel heavier, but every step felt as if it was taking me somewhere higher, and more meaningful. I looked down and saw that I was stepping on the mountain’s bare rocks, its bones. Soon, the only thing between the heavens and the mountain was my small body. The image of what would happen if I fell was nerve-wrecking. Still I kept going. Last thing I want to do is to stop. As I took the final step to the top, a sudden gust of wind confronted me. It was then that I was finally able to take my breath, my hard-earned rest. All was beneath me.
Over centuries in an ever-changing world, mountains stand firm, unchanged. As men climb these colossal sculptures of nature, men have received the same feelings centuries ago. The quiet peace, the beauty, and the sense of being alive and life are only a small of what the mountains have to offer, a whole new world of nature.