adventure, Europe, featured, Outdoor

The Necessity Of Wilderness

October 15, 2015

My autumn is most beautiful in North Wales, on wet beaches, on the scree slopes of Snowdonia and at the cliffs of Anglesey. But in the first place, my autumn is most beautiful by foot and in a speed that allows me to understand and to leave all doubt and pain on the way. It will be an escape from city air I cannot breathe anymore, a journey towards more moonlight and sea breeze and poetry.

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We start off quite early to hike along a ridge. For hours we climb uphill on steep mountain sides full of purple heather and boulders that sometimes shake under our steps. Sheep roam and raptors circle above us. Skinny trees again grow on the former slate mine. Veines of rosequart are drawn in rocks like ancient life lines. Suddenly, all is quiet around us. We’ve stopped talking as we mind our steps and concentrate on the trail, we are busy with our own thoughts and exertion. Breathing in, breathing out, I slowly make my way up the mountain. We follow the mountainous ridge while the landscape around us appears in blueish shades. Perhaps it is the wise perpetuity of the mountains that makes us become small and humble in front of the world. Perhaps it is the view down the valley and the feeling that maybe, we can do and be anything we want. Either way, mountain hikes are somewhat magical.

After climbing down the mountain, we drive home in the evening sun that paints moutain tops orange and golden. We drive home with rosy cheeks, heavy legs and tousled hair. Tired heads rest on familiar shoulders. Our breath is calm and one with the winds of the mountains and we let the dandling bends of the road lift us into dreams that just for today have been our reality: With our eyes closed, we once more see the mountains and the birds, silently gliding and calmly observing. We smell like forest and autumn.

I’ve come here for green autumn hills and the blue irish sea, for mugs of hot tea and soulwarming, cinnamon-sweet breakfast porridge that you cook for us. For the guitar variations in minor chords that carry the fading sun rays of summer. I am excited for the answers I’ll receive – for I know I wouldn’t dare to ask. I’ve come here for the hikes that settle the speed of my life. For the shiny, colorful bubbles that we admiringly send over the city.

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And finally, I’ve come for Anglesey, an island in the Irish Sea. For six days, my friend Anja and I hike along the coastal path, from morning to night, rain or shine, lonesome and whole. Gravity wants to pull us and our big backpacks to the ground, but the magic of the trail ahead draws us further around the island.

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With blistered feet, aching shoulders and light hearts we keep walking. Within six days, we live a hundred lives and undergo all the mental states of a wanderer.

On day one we set off, dauntlessly and full of beans. My brother sends me a photo from his beach holiday in Greece. Ha, Softy! We instead feel like two badass hiking girls. We eat blackberries from the bushes and camp out at the beach after taking a bath in the ice cold irish sea.

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Day two. Defiantly, we keep on walking despite our muscles start to feel sore. The trail leads on flooded marshlands near an estuary. We get lost trying to find an inland path. Already in crepuscular light, we cannot find a place to pitch the tent.

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Day three. I want to be on a greek beach, too. The beauty of Anglesey and of life has been overwhelming yet it somehow keeps me on my feet. Before dusk, we find the most perfect spot to camp.

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It is only after a while, only after a few days in wild nature that we grow humble and calm. It is only after a few days that we allow ourselves to fully embrace the beauty around and within us.

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Day four. We have camped on a piece of grass near the cliffs in a starry, windless night and the sight of the stars and the northern lights made us feel small and big at once. In the morning, we spot dolphins in the blue sea and we realize that maybe, we ourselves are nothing but tiny dots in the infinite universe. We arrive in us and on the path. We come to realize that possibly, no one really needs to understand the world and that no one ever really does. No matter how much they pretend or try or fight. We gain back our strength as we’ve adjusted with the laws of nature, we have become one with the filth and the beauty of constantly being outdoors. Today, we are two badass hiking girls.

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Day five. We keep on walking and we kiss the earth with our feet. We hitch hike a bit and climb Holyhead Mountain. Snufflingly, happily, and free. This feeling has come back: No matter how little we understand of all this, what in the world could we not handle? Grey clouds reform above us, the ocean is  a silver blue haze.

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I look at Anja and smile. What I needed most on this journey were you and our torchlit tent talks. Our laughter, causing rock and sea and moon to dance.

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Day six. The hike leads us back to Bangor, where we stay with friends. The backpack feels somehow lighter now – we’ve eaten up the food and maybe we’ve jettison anger and fear and strain on the path, too. It feels wonderful to come back to a home, to friendships new and old.

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Wind in my hair, I feel part of everywhere underneath my being is a road that disappeared…

Leave it to me as I find a way to be, consider me a satellite for ever orbiting
I knew all the rules but the rules did not know me.

(Eddie Vedder)

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