Having recently celebrated my 75th birthday, I found myself reflecting on the incredible journey of being a lifelong hiker, with many years of it being on the trails of North Carolina. The trails that weave through this beautiful state have become not only a source of physical and mental well-being but also a thread that connects me to a vibrant community. These trails have profoundly impacted my life as I embrace the golden years, and I hope my experience can remind everyone, no matter their age, of the transformative power of nature, community, and trails.
A Trail to Heal and Thrive:
Across North Carolina, there are breathtaking landscapes. These trails have become my sanctuary, healing my body and nurturing my spirit year after year. Every step I take along these paths invigorates me, reminding me of the resilience and strength within. The fresh air fills my lungs, the soft earth beneath my feet grounds me, and the symphony of nature’s sounds rejuvenates my soul. These trails have always been there for me as my companions on a journey of physical well-being, allowing me to witness the astonishing beauty of this land while rejuvenating my body and invigorating my spirit.
A Trail to Unite Hearts and Souls:
Through exploring and embracing trails, I have discovered a remarkable community that shares my passion for exploration. As we traverse these hills, valleys, and streams together, I have formed bonds with others that transcend age, background, and experience. Each encounter brings with it a sense of belonging, a reminder that we are never alone in this journey. Conversations flow effortlessly, laughter echoes through the trees, and stories and wisdom are shared freely. The trails become the meeting ground where lives intertwine, creating a tapestry of memories and a community that lifts one another up.
A Trail to Preserve and Love:
My connection to the trails in North Carolina extends beyond my personal joy; it also creates a deep desire to give back. Volunteering has become my way of preserving the very trails that have given me so much, especially as I have aged. As I can, I dedicate time and energy to trail maintenance, preserving the natural beauty that has become a sanctuary for myself and many others. With each fallen branch cleared, I feel a sense of purpose and gratitude for the opportunity I have to protect and nurture these trails for future generations.
A Trail to Rediscover Life’s Magic:
Walking the trails across this great state and especially those right in my community, I am constantly reminded of the magic that exists in every moment. The dance of sunlight through the foliage, the vibrant colors of wildflowers in bloom, and the gentle melody of flowing streams. Crisp air, chirping birds, and rustling leaves create a perfect symphony. Nature’s spectacle unfolds before my eyes, reigniting a childlike wonder within me. In the silence of trails, I find solace and clairty, freeing my mind from the burdens of daily life. It is here, among the whispering trees and rustling leaves, that I am reminded of the preciousness of life and the boundless beauty that constantly surrounds us.
My name is Phyllis, and I am a lifelong hiker. I moved to North Carolina from Flagstaff, AZ, upon my retirement in my early 60s to be closer to extended family. I now live in a small community in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains just outside of Asheville, with miles of trails a short walk from my home. I have always loved being outdoors and exploring wherever I have been, and in my later life, trails have become an even more integral part of my being. Having never married or had children, trails have always been a safe space for me to heal my body in times of sickness, nurture my spirit in times of sorrow, and connect me to a community of kindred souls. With each step I take on the trail, I rediscover the magic of life and the transformative power of nature. I am constantly in awe.
I invite you to join me on the trail wherever you may be and start your own journey. Breathe in the fresh air, feel the earth beneath your feet, and ignite your soul. Together, let us embrace the trails and savor the infinite wonders they offer during this Year of the Trail and every year we are blessed with.”