On Top of the World: Colorado Trip Reflection
Traveling always makes me reflect on everything going on in my life, as well as the world around me. It's like going to therapy in a way, because you go to a new place, see new things you've never seen before, and you start to understand yourself better once you see yourself in a different setting. I knew this summer I wanted to visit somewhere that would let me discover something new, while enjoying a calm and serene environment to reduce my anxiety. Colorado did that for me these past 5 days. As soon as we landed in the western state, I felt different--1 mile above sea level. I noticed the air was different and it was weird breathing, but I didn't even notice half the time because as our friend picked us up from the airport, we began to see the mountains. That's just insane to me. It right away made me think about how big and wide the world is, how diverse and multidimensional.
On our second day, we visited Roosevelt National Forest and saw SNOW in June under our feet as we hiked up the Indian Peaks Wilderness, until we found a creek, beautiful endangered mountain flowers, and a cloudy sky that went out forever. The third day we visited Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, which was a whole natural park filled with different magnificent rocks and boulders. My friends and I kept walking through the magnificent rock formations, thinking "How did these even get here?".
Lastly, we took a day-long road trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, which felt like stepping into another Universe. It literally felt like we were on top of the world. As our ears popped as we drove higher and higher up the mountain, we looked out the window absolutely starstruck at the amazing view of the mountain. The very top we went to had a tundra that looked like it was out of a fairytale, with small wildflowers growing everywhere and elks and groundhog-type animals just roaming around.
This whole trip made me think about a lot of things. The mountains and the wilderness inspired so much in me these past couple days. It made me think about myself as a person and how I need to be more like a mountain--tough, solid and reaching for the sky. It reminded me how much I love and feel connected with nature, and how this brings back memories of my childhood. It made me think of America, and what being American means to me (yeah, I went that deep) and how important it is to conserve the glorious nature and wilderness in this complicated country we live in.
| Me, Myself and the Wild |
I've always felt a deep connection with nature. When I was younger, I used to run around the Lithuanian country sides with my hands to the sky, convinced that I was the one making the wind blow against the pine trees. I used to lay on the grass and just feel the ground below me, I felt at home. I was an anxious soul, you could say, since I was young--and being in the forest and next to rivers always made it alright. I realize lately, with my busy schedule and office jobs, I've neglected nature and being in tune with it. Seeing the Colorado wilderness and the Rocky Mountains really woke me up. It was my first time seeing something as grand as mountains, that go on for miles and up for miles. On our last day, the tundra that we visited at the Rocky Mountain National Park was like out of a fairytale--a magical world made by the Earth. It was so beautiful, I felt very humbled to be there. That we were allowed to see it.
What I've taken away from this is that I need to get outside more, basically. It calms me and it fuels me--being around green grass and magnificent trees. One thing I incidentally read about while I was on my trip, was this new thing called "Forest-Bathing", which is basically a term to describe a walk through the forest, that is more than just a walk, where you stop and look at everything and let yourself completely go into the environment around you. I feel like this is something I was practicing, without knowing it, while I was on this trip. There's something truly amazing about hiking, climbing and roaming through the wilderness that let's you completely purge all the stress and negativity you have built up.
How to be Practice Mindfullness/Meditation in Nature:
- Go to a place you feel comfortable. If you want to hike, go hike. If you want to walk along the river, that's perfect too. Everyone can experience nature in their own way that is important and spiritual to them--you don't have to run a lap in the forest or climb a boulder. But don't be afraid to try new things. I was a little worried about my physical stamina when we went hiking, but I realized I really had it in me--and I loved it more than any jog or run I've ever gone on.
- Shut off your phone, and any other distractions. Maybe listen to music for a while if you want to get focused and relaxed, but the main idea is to take in everything around you, including smells sounds and touch. Really go through the environment slowly, fighting the urges to look at your watch or your phone.
- Keep a journal. This is a reminder to myself as well--i've been really lacking with my journaling lately. But when going on a walk in nature, it's a time when your mind can really open up to some of the ideas and thoughts that are hidden under all the distractions you have every day. Also, it's just cool to note down some of the things you see: different trees, plants, secret locations you might discover.
| America, the Beautiful |
It's fourth of July as a I write this. Independence day. I'm back in Ohio but honestly I couldn't have thought of a of a better way to celebrate the 4th of July, than by going to one of its most purest spots. I feel like I've had a lot of mixed feelings about the U.S. these days, with all the political tension and awfulness that has been going on. I never particularly cared for 4th of July, but this year I was especially prepared to be apathetic. But being in the Colorado wilderness gave me something to believe in. After climbing through the magnificent Rockies and seeing the lush forests of this state, it made me feel proud for the beautiful nature we've been gifted with. As we were walking through the forests and climbing up hills and mountains, for a minute I even forgot what country I was in--and it made me realize that these parks are such a pure part of America that actually makes me proud of it.
And at the same time I realized how unbelievably important it is to take care of our Earth in every way we can. The National Parks are definitely something we take for granted, and a lot of political leaders don't see the conservation of them as a priority. We often think they're always going to be there. But I would encourage everyone reading this to go out and either get a pass or visit your nearest National Park, breathe in the nature around you and high-five the hard-working rangers. Because it's absolutely incredible the gift that we have.
Ways You Can and Should Support the National Parks: Links
- Get an annual pass. It's absolutely worth it and it's probably the number one way to support the national parks. Especially if you're a nature lover and live in a rural area with parks, do it now! Also encourage your friends and family to do it!
- Give support through donations, monthly giving, becoming a partner, and more!
- Support campaigns. Yosemite Conservancy and Grand Teton National Park Foundation are currently in need of public support for their projects.
- Follow their badass Twitter accounts.
- How Can You Support US National Parks? Here's 9 Simple Ways
- Apply for a job there, share your opinion and simply give the parks a boost by going to one this summer!
Traveling will always be part of me, in a way. I'll always feel the need to visit different places. That's why when people ask me "What kind of place do you want to live in?", I always change my mind. Because there's so much I haven't seen yet, so many cities and environments I haven't tried out yet. I always knew I'd want to end up in a big city, but maybe later down the road a place like Denver, or another spot between the forests or mountains would feel just as right. Now I'm back home and slowly settling back into reality, but so happy with the memories I've made. My mind is clearer and the world feels bigger--but in a good way. Traveling to a completely different part of the country an really make you feel small, but it also makes you realize all the oppertunities there are before you.