November 2, 2009
I had been waiting all day for this. The anticipation slowly building, circulating through me as the fresh air pulsed through my lungs. I silently will myself to not laugh out loud at the sheer beauty of it all. We had been hiking all day, but who was I to complain? I loved our weekend hiking excursions, and this one was to my favorite, and the one that I find the most stunning, Crowder’s Mountain.

As we trekked towards the top of the mountain, I never once got tired. Partially because I had around three blue Kool-Aid bottles, and also because every time I would get even remotely exhausted, I would look around at the breathtaking scenery and be reenergized. The smell of the wilderness breathed into my soul and time itself seemed to stop. I trudged along the path kicking at pebbles, and trying to step on crunchy leaves because the sound it makes brings me joy comparable to summer vacation. We had spent a couple of hours hiking and taking our time, allowing ourselves to soak in the morning. I raced ahead to try to run with my dog. I swear he’s part deer! He leapt over a log and confirmed my suspicions.

The constant canopy of trees broke occasionally to let in some golden beams of light. I basked in the warmth the sun offered at a sparse clearing.
My peaceful reverie was broken as I began to realize how hungry I was. I tugged on my mom’s sleeve.

“Mommy, when are we going to eat?” I pleaded.

“Soon,” she said. On we marched, still enjoying ourselves, but I was getting very hungry. The questions came more frequently now.

“Are we almost there yet?”, “Mommy, I’m hungry,” and “Can we just eat NOW?” I’m sure my hunger was beginning to become an annoyance to not only me, but my parents as well, who had to put up with these annoying questions now every minute or so.

Finally, my mom said, “We are almost to the top, just wait another minute.” I was silenced by my moms firm glance and I decided to just ignore the earthquake occurring in my stomach. I walked for a little while and, to my surprise, mom was right. It was only a few steps away.

The first thing that I could think of, sadly, was how hungry I was. I made a beeline for dad, who had our lunches and some trail mix. I reveled in how much the small snack could fill me up. After I ate, I proceeded to the edge where I could look at the whole mountain.

I almost had to physically stop myself from gasping aloud. I looked down and stumbled backwards to regain my balance. I looked all around and saw the rest of the mountain range. The peak we had climbed to was nestled in the middle of it all. The vibrant colors were overwhelming. The greens, though they were seen everywhere, came in such a variety that it was shocking they could all be in the same place. The yellows danced off of the leaves and sang in the sunlight. The oranges added a sweet laughter to the land. The blues were magnificent; they gave the mountain such depth. Their shadows looking welcoming, rather than ominous.

As I backed away from the beautiful peak to head home, I never wanted to leave the colors, the light, the joy. On the car ride home, I found myself unable to stop looking back at that scene. It stayed with me. This memory, the joy, is engraved into my mind so that no matter where I live, no matter where I go, I feel a piece of my home.

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