Posted On September 23, 2014 By In Lifestyle, Miscellaneous

Picturesque: A Tale of Traveling, Losing, and Finding Yourself


This past summer, I took a solo roadtrip meant for “self-exploration and discovery”—and some other hippie bullshit I thought would make me more introspective as an individual. Ironically enough, though I exuded a pseudo-whimsicality and spontaneity for adventure, I rigidly revolved my life around rules and schedules.

My first stop was Mount Washington in the New Hampshire Whites, which was the highest peak I would’ve ever climbed. I joined a group of other solo hikers, but it was clear that I was the expert in the group—in tip-top shape to dominate this mountain.

Unfortunately, as we began our 8 AM ascent, I already felt irritable in my bulky, itchy hiking boots and a camelback that weighed more than I did. We also decided to choose the most difficult, steepest trail. But I was an expert—I was going to get through this. Only six more hours… I was so grateful for the hour lunch break we took to explore the area. In all honestly, I just wanted to stuff my face and then nap.

While a crew of hikers set out to explore, I stayed back with Addy, a girl who after only four hours gave me bad vibes. She was the exact kind of badass adventurous I pretended to be. Once everyone had left, she said she just wanted to take a ‘short’ hike to a waterfall and lagoon half a mile outside our trail boundary. I didn’t want to move another muscle in my body, but what the hell… how bad could it be?

Turns out, the ‘downhill’ path was so steep that you could see about 100 feet down. They say “don’t look down” when you’re high above, but in this case, there was no choice but to stare downwards. As I cried out in fear and complained loudly, Addy ran ahead, oo-ing and ahh-ing at all the “beautiful scenery” and “cool plant-life”—and oooh, a glacial track! Yeah, glacial track alright—I was too focused on not dying before age twenty.

By the time we reached the lagoon, my heart was racing so quickly that I dropped to the ground while Addy ooh-ed and ahh-ed some more. Sure, the lagoon was pretty, but it was no big deal. I just wanted to get back in time before the group set off without us.

Finally, we decided to head back… and because we traveled downhill, we naturally began our ascent up the impossible, debatably suicidal slope. During that climb, I became quite convinced the world flipped upside down, and I was only climbing upwards toward Hell. To add to my excitement and mentality of FML, Addy remained all, “Chill out. We’re not lost, we just have to feel the vibes Mother Nature is giving us to make our way back.”

Luckily, we made it back just in the nick of time. As I caught my breath, Addy showed everyone the pictures she took along the way—gorgeous photos of rainbow falls, and water so clear you could see the bottom of the lagoon, and fields of flowers in every single color, and the most breath-taking panorama I’d ever seen. I began to wonder, was that scenery on the same treacherous trail we just hiked? Was that the trail I thought I’d spend my last minutes on earth?

In the midst of my whining and preoccupations with adhering to my goody-two-shoes ways, I lost the sense of adventure and optimism I set out to embody. Roadtrips aren’t meant to have rules or boundaries. Exploration is supposed to be unplanned, dangerous at times, surprising in the most unexpected of ways. Traveling takes you across the lands, but it should also take you outside your comfort zone.

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Karen hails from Boston, but she now hails to the University of Michigan, where she pursuing degrees in English and psychology (otherwise known as a career as a starving artist). Although she is still waiting on her Hogwarts acceptance letter, she aspires to be a writer or journalist. You can usually find her at the nearest Panera, discussing good films, good art, and perhaps the meaning of life.