Do you ever wonder what life was like twenty years ago? How did people know when someone arrived at their house without receiving a “here” text? How did they know where the fish could be found without using a fish finder? In today’s world, technology is everywhere. It is nearly impossible to go a mere ten minutes without acknowledging some form of technology. We have lost the capability to indulge in an old fashioned adventure, one where you don’t know how long the trail is going to take, where it ends, or what previous riders, runners, fishers, or hikers thought about it. During spring break, I had the opportunity to do just that by unplugging from all technology and reflecting on its effect on our lives.
After the stress and sweat of midterms was over, my friends Will, Luke, and I decided to spend our spring break backpacking along the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park. This much-needed break from libraries and laptops was the perfect chance to get away from all technology and clear our minds. The trail still had traces of snow etched with fresh boot prints from other eager hikers. Although the trees still had not begun the regeneration that comes with the promise of new life, and the snow was still up to five inches deep in some spots, we ventured through the seemingly perfect 65 springtime degrees the first day we were out. We were able to take a detour to a glistening waterfall that, unlike my favorite playlist on Spotify or my favorite nature film on Netflix, sounded so impeccably crisp as it crashed into the crystal clear pool that soothingly splashed up to cool down our sweating faces.
Our second day didn’t greet us too well. We woke up to a steady, albeit peaceful rainfall that would continue off and on throughout the day. The Appalachian Trail turned into a track of mud getting worse with every step as our boots trying to grip onto stable ground and push our bodies forward without slipping out and taking a nasty tumble. Muddy, damp, and drained, we set up camp about an hour away from dark.
With no prior knowledge and no GPS to lead us, we let our curiosity guide us on one last adventure before dark. That’s the beauty of being unplugged — you let your true inner-self guide you with no expectations so that when you do find something amazing, you feel inspired and blessed as if this “gift” was handpicked for you. A few miles back there were cliffs we noticed on the way to our camp spot, cliffs begging to be climbed upon.
Breathing heavily from the hike and ascent, I reached the top and gazed miles across the darkening mountains coated with a blanket of fog. It was uplifting and inspiring to know we didn’t follow the directions on our phone. We didn’t read about this breathtaking view on a website. We discovered it on our own and that feeling is indescribable.
Laying down cuddled up in my sleeping bag as darkness filled the sky that night, I began thinking. I reflected on the rainy and chilly day of backpacking through mud and water and how it was so much better than being at home on a rainy day stuck inside, slumped on the couch, watching movies and walking back and forth to the fridge. I was thinking how refreshed I would be waking up in the morning because I wouldn’t stay up late watching anything on television, listening to everything on my music downloads, or scrolling for hours on my cell phone to make sure I didn’t miss a bit of useless information that was posted, Tweeted, or pinned.
Life is amazing when you actually look up from your phone and notice the world around you. You have more time to explore the mountains and explore your mind. You have more time to acknowledge and really enjoy the beauty of a snowcapped mountain or the soothing sound of rain in the wilderness. Try it! You’ll be surprised at what you might find.