Through a long-distance hiker’s pictures, observations, and wilderness awareness come valuable and important vignettes into the world of backpacking and all the miraculous benefits it offers the human heart and spirit.

This picture catches my attention because it speaks of the relationship every hiker can attain with the wilderness, itself. After a while, the daily routine of “another pass, another lake” becomes, not just a part of the walk, but a part of the life with these new-found friends.

As you shed your societal concerns with every step along the trail, you begin to pay more attention to what’s happening around you and to listen to what it has to say.

As a mother wanting to soothe or a father wanting to teach, so too, the spirit of the wilderness wants to take us up into its lap and tell us what’s most important in life…if we will listen.

After an individual amount of time (and this varies from weeks to months), hikers can develop the ability to hear, then trust, this relationship.

Like your closest friend, it can answer your every question, guide your decisions, reassure your worries, and give you the deepest hugs, all while being ever-present, as you walk through its cathedrals of granite and pine.

Each pass, lake, root, and rock (don’t forget the little Pikas, Ned!) has its message and they all begin to roll into one long conversation as the miles go by. If you allow it to take your hand, you are never alone.