Author: Alex Vosika
Tags: Exploring, North America, Semi Finalist, USA, Virginia
The night was cold but the air was clean, so clean that the only thing that had polluted the perfect scent of the wilderness was the smell of fresh pine burning beside our camp smoldering away into the night. My friend and I came across the camp just a couple of hours before and decided to make camp for the night on the battlefield in which thousands of people had lost their lives located in the historic town of Middletown, Virginia. Our objective of the night was simple: find a place on the battlefield and camp in hammocks, we succeeded in that by finding ourselves under two single trees in the middle of the battlefield surrounded by nobody but ourselves. We quickly built a fire by our camp to keep warm in the below freezing temperatures that seemed to sneak up on us in the middle of autumn. The dinner that night consisted only of two demolished sandwiches a piece, a half bag of pretzels, and a can of Pringles that we fought over to fulfill our starving teenage bodies. The rest of the night consisted of small conversation and the looming admiration for the universe that lay above our heads that seemed to stretch forever across the Virginia sky.
After the fire was dying down to a small smokestack my friend and I packed ourselves into our hammocks and pursued to sleep in one of the coldest nights of my entire life. As soon as I entered my sleeping bag I could feel the cold air begin to seep in and strangle my body in a fierce shock of cold that no other past experience could rival. My friend and I both underestimated the cold and were both unprepared for it as it seemed to suffocate us in its brisk furry. My feet went numb after about three hours of the eight hour night.
What made the trip worth the pain was the morning after; the sun reached its looming arms over the horizon warming the freezing earth below it. The earth soon went from a gloomy blue that seemed to encompass our emotions, to an orange that seemed to revitalize our souls and give us the inspiration to accomplish anything under its glorious reign and to give us the energy to complete or journey.
In that moment I realized the beauty of the world and how it can inspire a person to accomplish anything that is possible just due to the glorious wonder that it brings. I stumbled out of the hammock looking longingly into the sun, my eyes watering like I was witnessing the most beautiful that I could ever imagine. My friend and I did not speak a word to each other for another thirty minutes or so just the silent admiration of the wilderness. Nothing broke that silence, not our chattering teeth, not our malnourished bodies, not even the pain extruding from our numb extremities because our soul knew the beauty was something to pay attention to, and it made the whole trip worth it.