When I finally arrive in Vail for a women’s empowerment workshop I wonder why it seemed so difficult to get away and why I was even having second thoughts about leaving. Hmmm, work or go to the mountains for an outdoor adventure retreat designed to rejuvenate and nourish mind, body, and spirit? The answer suddenly couldn’t be simpler.
The next few days are packed with activities (yoga, hiking, rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, and equine empowerment, speakers, and seminars. I decided to shut my phone and computer off and enjoy a couple of days off the grid. This is my conscious effort to disconnect from the expectations of work and others fueled by the constant chatter of technology. Instead, I hope to truly appreciate the natural world that so often just dissolves into the background of our lives.
The next day starts with an easy run and yoga before breakfast and although this is a normal routine today feels different, as if a weight has been lifted mentally and physically.
While half of the group leaves to go rock climbing, I join the group going hiking with Trailwise Guides. We approach the Gore Creek Trail in a way that I am not accustomed to at all. Crossing the threshold into the Eagles Nest Wilderness we have no plan of destination or distance, just an opportunity to enjoy the mountains and see where the trail takes us. The guide says we can go 500 feet or 5 miles. I force myself to stay near the back of the group to attenuate my habit of only focusing on the destination. Since I have no idea where that point is I’m determined to enjoy the hike in a different way today. Immediately I notice I am seeing more of the scenery instead of just picking out my footsteps on the rocky trail. I stop to take pictures – which I never do – of things that I probably might never see.
We stop for lunch by the creek and our guide hands us crayons and paper to make leaf rubbings. Yes, it sounds silly and like something you haven’t done since you were a kid but all of a sudden it’s fun and again changes the perspective and the sometimes limited way in which we enjoy our outdoor recreation.
The day ends with an inspiring talk from Shannon Galpin, founder of Mountain2Mountain, a non-profit that focuses on women in war-torn regions, mainly Afghanistan. In a culture where women do not have a lot of freedom and are not allowed to do much recreationally (much less ride bikes), Shannon became the first woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan riding through the Panjshir Valley. Taking this risk to simply ride a bike immediately communicated her passion and drive to everyone who saw her without the need for one spoken word.
It occurs to me that we have made our lives and fitness routines so hectic and complex that we often miss or forget the simple things that allow us to thrive and were the original source to our motivation and enjoyment. Of course the ironic twist was recognized by da Vinci when he said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.