I ended 2020 the same way I began it- on the trails. Admittedly, both hikes looked remarkably different. One started off cliff climbing on the limestone coast of Anguilla, through fields of popehead cacti towards secret caves and grottos. One ended under grey skies, through drizzling rain, in a slightly less exotic locale- Ramapo State Forrest. 2020 was a terrible struggle for so many of us. Riddled with loss and anxiety and uncertainty, it's been hard to find the light in such dark times.
I have always been addicted to traveling. In the last few years, I have hiked in the Pyrenees and in the Blue Mountains in Australia, from sky to sea in the Tramuntana mountains, up volcanos and over hanging bridges in Costa Rica, through rain forests and waterfalls in Puerto Rico, a creepy, abandoned village in the rocky terrain of Naxos, Greece and along the sprawling, emerald cliffs in Ireland. Closer to home, I revisited Hawaii quite a few times, hiking through volcanic tubes and over volcanic coastline up pillboxes and craters. In mainland National Parks, I was lucky enough to visit famous hiking trails like Old Rag, The Narrows, Thor's Hammer, and Cadillac Mountain. I conquered the highest peak in New York, Mt. Marcy.
So when the pandemic hit and trip after trip got cancelled, I was despondent and fixated on all of the things I wouldn't be able to do. Working in healthcare during the pandemic made me witness the best and worst of everything and it was hard not to get mired down in the unimaginable loss. But I quickly realized I had so much to be thankful for- a job, healthy family, tons of support from amazing friends.
2020 really taught me to be grateful for the things that I have and the things that I could do. I realized I had become a little bit of a hiking snob, traveling farther and farther from home to do "epic" hikes. I had forgotten how beautiful New Jersey and New York really were.
Now that 2020 has officially come to an end, I hope I can keep the lessons I have learned close to my heart so that I don't take for granted a home that I really and truly love. What have you learned this year?
Laura is one of the owners of Hike the World and is extremely passionate about our parks and trails. You can also follow her on IG @lhuisking.
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