Adventure is a charged word. It holds everything that we are expected to do, and who we
want to be. Adventure is the desire to be someone fun and outgoing. But it doesn’t have to be. It can be a long drive to a place that you have always wanted to visit, or a quiet day in the woods. For me, on a normal Sunday afternoon in November, it was both of these.
Waking up that morning I was tired, but excited with what I had been planning for the
past week and a half. I had told my friend that we were going to go on a day long adventure, with no details about where that would be. I knew that our destination was simple, a state park in PA, about an hour from home. Caledonia State Park, home of the Thaddeus Stevens Historical Trail which loops through a small piece of the Michaux State Forest. Lunch needed to be included, so we stopped at a small Arby’s along the way. Once this was completed we hopped back on the highway, buzzing towards that day’s version of “The Great Outdoors.” Yet no road trip would be complete without a few bumps along the way, and in this story, it was a classic. We missed our exit. Jamming too loud with Kings of Leon on the radio and talking, we zipped right past. Edging closer to the Maryland border, we finally reached another exit that would keep us on schedule and arrived shortly after. Ecstatic, my friend confirmed my suspicions that this would be an adventure we both would remember.
Upon arrival, I realized that the 16 ounces of sweet tea I drank at lunch suddenly made
“The Great Outdoors” less appealing. Thankfully, we came across a small welcome center that
provided a map, restroom and blast of heat before enduring the winds and crisp autumn air that followed. We decided to hike the easiest of the trails, the Thaddeus Stevens, which had a path leading up the side of a mountain, then back down to the dam with lots of pines and flat ground surrounding it. Here is where we chose to sit and absorb it all in.
The first thing I noted was that I was cold. Like, really really cold. I thought I had come
prepared. A piece of plastic under the two blankets that we sat on would prevent any water from coming through (although at that moment I figured it should have all been frozen given how much I felt like a popsicle), while being wrapped up in two more fleece blankets allowed me to stop shivering long enough for me to write what I saw. The second thing I noted was that
everything was brown, with the exception of the pine trees. So much for the vivid red and orange and yellow fall foliage I was hoping for with. The third and final thought I recall having, was how beautiful everything became. I don’t know if it was that I had finally become completely numb, or that the silence had finally enveloped me, but in that moment, I was speechless.
The intricacy of the surrounding woods was stunning. Fallen tree branches were woven
together to form the skeletons of houses for animals. Branches that were still attached looked like spokes on a bicycle wheel, overlapping and rotating up the entirety of the tree. Moss on the trees reminded me of spongy green pillows, and the winter sky reminded me of a patchwork quilt made of sky and cloud. As the wind picked up, the ancient trees started swaying further than I was comfortable with, especially once they started creaking like old houses. Looking at my adventure partner, we shared a smile, and began our trek back to the car with the adventure home still looming in front of us. Despite the brown and broken, there was still so much to be seen and captured in the season leading up to Thanksgiving.
Abbi St. Clair is a biochemistry major from Harrisburg. She enjoys reading, doing
puzzles, walking, volunteering, and hiking.