How to Save Yourself from the Winter Blues - My Family Travels

It’s no secret that I’m an outdoors girl. Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that the outdoors is the one thing that occupies my mind at all times. Ever since I was a little kid I loved caring for anything natural. Bugs were creatures I looked upon with affection, and any animal found lurking in our yard was treated like a blood relative. Even when my mom took me on walks around our freshly-mowed suburban neighborhood, I would stop every minute or so to pick up microscopic pieces of litter. I guess you could say that being outdoors and caring for the environment is something I was born to do, and as I grow older I find it harder and harder to stay away.

            I quench my thirst for the outdoors by working at Girl Scout camp all summer in the Ozark hills of central Missouri. As you can imagine, when I come back to school in the fall to the Kansas City suburbs, I go through a bit of an outdoors withdrawal. Going from sleeping in a tent to a comfy bed in the AC is like a culture shock, and post-camp depression always hits hard. I miss being immersed in nature, and by the time October comes around, I am as anxious and restless as a caged tiger. Lucky for me, it was last year when I found a solution to this problem.

            I went on a backpacking trip with my friends through Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas. It was the perfect snack to tide me over through the winter until camp the next summer. The trees were just starting to turn, and the Butterfield Hiking Trail offered beautiful views within its fifteen mile loop. Now, I had been on backpacking trips before, but this one seemed different, like my last chance to experience the outdoors before I was confined to a school desk over the long winter. As soon as I stepped onto that trail, I knew I would have to make the most of this journey.

As far as autumn backpacking goes, I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend to do it.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous: cold nights, chilled mornings, and warm, sunny afternoons. We went at a slow pace, stopping to inspect every odd-looking log and outcropping, and to take goofy, majestically-posed pictures. The trail is pretty low-key. Only a few rough spots provided an exciting challenge for us as the BHT twisted around bluffs and meandered along Blackburn Creek. The scenery was spectacular, and I fancied myself hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains on the Appalachian Trail (a lifelong dream of mine).                        

Yes, this was shaping up to be a great weekend. Surrounded by great friends and with my new Osprey on my back, I couldn’t have been happier. The only thing pressing on my mind was that this trip would soon come to an end, and I would have to return to the stressful world of civilization. I was not looking forward to the rest of the school year. Junior year, after all, has been known to tear down the best of us. One thing I knew for certain: I would have to make the memories of this trip last and not let the impending winter break my spirit.

I think I can say I adequately accomplished this task. I finished the trail feeling satisfied with the journey, and returned home with an abundant supply of bruises, scratches, and memories. Most importantly, however, I learned a new way to make it through the winter without losing my sanity.   


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