A full 48 hours of backpacking and reminiscing is the best way to finish off a school year at Appalachian State University. The past two years attending a college with the Blue Ridge Parkway in my backyard has spoiled me and has driven my passion for outdoor adventure. Every year during the week before finals my friends and I push all of the studying, mounds of books and papers aside to set our minds free in the mountains one last time before we part ways for the summer. It has now become a tradition for us to hike the Daniel Boone Scout Trail during the most hectic week of the school year.

The hike is around 6.6 miles round trip and all up hill from the start. About half way into the hike there’s a nice camping spot next to Flat Rock, which makes for a great spot to view stars at night. Being above the trees and all other visual obstacles really allows for the stars to truly feel like a blanket wrapping itself around you. With the help of an astronomy book, we looked into the stars for hours on end and found more constellations than we even knew existed. As I was staring deep into the stars the pressure of the tests and term papers seemed to be lifted off my shoulders. I was reminded that my life, my problems, my struggles, and my triumphs don’t set me apart from the world but allow me to embrace the world and be apart of this moment in history — even if no one ever remembers my name, I am a part of a greater plan.

The next morning we continued on our journey to make it to one of the highest points of the Blue Ridge, Calloway Peak. Another mile or so past the campground is a hidden wooden shelter built by a Boy Scout troop in the ’60s. Not only is it another great view, but also allows for another great time to reflect on ideas very different from that found in the stars. Inside the walls of the shelter are engravings dating back to when it was first built. Most of the engravings are initials with hearts and dates. I faintly remember one even said something along the lines “M & S Honeymoon 1983”. At this point in the hike I was reminded of all the love and loss that I had experienced in order to reach this point in my life. As well as, what brought me to App? What brought me to this great group of friends? Even, what brought me to this point in my life? The deepest reflections I’ve ever had come from being in nature and allowing my mind to wander alongside the ground in which my feet travel.

The last leg of the trail is the most interesting because it is constantly changing. There’s ladders, ropes, grass, mud, rock, maybe even some snow, any type of terrain you can think of you’ll probably travel through at this point. Close to the top there is even a crashed and abandoned biplane. It’s a little eerie because it looks as though the crash was fatal. I immediately begin to be thankful for life and thankful for all of the reasons that have brought me to this point in time. A few moments later we finally reached the peak of the mountain. And yet again, I was forced into a moment of reflection peering out over the endless Blue Ridge which spread farther than my eyes could see. It made the journey to reach the top even that more rewarding.

On the climb back down I couldn’t help but to think of the steps that took me to the peak and the steps I’ve taken in life that have made me who I am. Then upon, reaching the bottom we were thrown right back into school-mode which we were trying to avoid at all costs. Being a student in a college near the Blue Ridge has helped me to grow in more ways than I could have ever imagined before attending. Not only am I growing intellectually but I am also growing spiritually and I owe it all to the mountains that engulf the town I love, Boone, N.C.