By Green River Preserve
This morning was a rainy one. Campers, on their mentor hikes, walked along in brightly colored rain jackets or waited out the heaviest of the rains under one of the Preserve’s campout shelters. One mentor group spent their morning exploring Upper Bald, yet the site—one of the most prominent of the hikes GRP offers—felt different this morning, without the blue skies we so often have in the morning time. The sky was grey and low hanging, with clouds that swirled serenely in and out of Upper Bald field or crept slowly across the rock face, wet with rain, of the bald itself. Campers used careful steps to navigate the slick surface, skirting the dark green patches of moss that dotted it. The air was heavy with mist that obscured the mountains undulating in the distance, but although the vastness of the Blue Ridge Mountains was not visible, the sight was still comforting. The Bald felt quiet, as if the mist muted the noise, and the greyness of the air lent the site an unusually small feeling. Rather than expansive sky, we saw expansive clouds.
Earlier in our hike, we spent several minutes under a shelter, waiting out the heavy rains that had preceded this moment and playing games. Afterward, the air was refreshingly cool, unlike the warmer July temperatures that the Preserve has been receiving all week, and the forest, with every breeze, brought a short burst of rain, falling from the tree leaves that had caught it on its way down.
On the Bald, our group decided to go, quite literally, off the beaten path, eschewing the rock cairns marking the trail in favor of finding new discoveries. We lingered on the Bald, each of us left to our own devices for a few minutes. Some campers took a seat, enjoying the simple act of being there, while others traversed the rock in search of new animals, plants, or any of the other fascinating life the Preserve offers.
Perhaps it was because this mentor group was smaller—six campers, as opposed to the usual ten or twelve—but the hike felt particularly tranquil. The rains had hushed the wildlife and, although the birds were beginning to sing again, there was something quieter about this morning. Maybe it was because the colors were quieter—soft greys instead of bright blues. Regardless, the moment felt peaceful, and the campers got to experience, as they do every day on the Preserve, a quieter world, devoid of cell phone rings or car engines or the constant hum of the electronics we have around our homes. It is a quieter world that lets us loosen our minds and open our ears to hear something beyond the everyday noise—that is, a deeper quiet, and a deeper peace, that emanates from the Preserve’s untouched wilderness. Although GRP is often a place of noise, whether in the form of exuberant bus songs or table banging or unbridled laughter, we hope that it, too, can be a place of tranquility and stillness for our campers, if only for a few moments each day.