Kayla, New Jersey, USA

“I moved to New Hampshire for a geographical cure from the mess I was creating for myself at home in New Jersey and at school in Philadelphia. I transferred to Plymouth State University to continue my education, but the hardship didn’t stop there. I was beginning to feel lost and hopeless. I felt as though I had nowhere to turn and that there was no way out of the trouble I found myself in.

Out of an extraordinary coincidence, I was lead to an amazing group of people who positively influenced my life. As time went on with these folks, I began to form relationships I had never experienced before in my life. One beautiful summer day, I went hiking for the first time with one of my fellows up Mount Cardigan and fell head over heels in love with it. I continued to hike with this friend until one day I was faced with the challenge of having to hike solo because he and others weren’t available. I was riddled with fear, doubt and insecurity about my capabilities when I didn’t have someone there to help pick me up, but I went to Mount Kearsarge that day anyway to do it for myself. I had remembered my friend telling me hiking keeps you in the moment because you have to always watch your next step. I implemented this philosophy into my hike and prayed to something I am not even sure I believed in at the time to get me up and down the mountain safely.

As I began to hike, I found myself saying my every step as an effort to be in the moment. “Root, rock, over, up.” Finally, I got to this spot on the trail that changed me entirely. The trail turned into a rock slab path surrounded by moss under this canopy of trees and life. In that moment, I became extremely aware of myself and my surroundings and looked at everything in a whole new light. This state of enlightenment stayed with me for the remainder of the hike. It was then that I had found my spirituality. Through daily spiritual practices, I have grown to learn that peace and happiness come from within. Hiking is more than just hiking to me. I find the strongest connection to my spirituality in the woods and on the mountains. The longest journey I have ever had to make was from my head to my heart.”

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