Regarding COVID-19: Please recreate responsibly and practice social distancing. Closures and travel restrictions are changing rapidly, always check and respect local regulations.

My connection with the outdoors

Spending time in nature makes me feel complete

I've been so busy with school this last semester and working full time that I haven't had a day off to get lost in the outdoors for months. I finished my last final at 10:35am on Thursday morning and by 12:05pm I was on the road and headed into the wilderness. I needed to escape, I needed to go sit in the woods for a couple days to regain my sanity, regain my appreciation and respect that I have for the outdoors. As soon as my tires hit the dirt road, I cranked up Stevie Ray Vaughn, rolled down the windows and my dog, Riley and I got lost in the winding back road.

We found a perfect spot along the river, tucked amongst the tall trees and immediately Riley and I were like giddy little children running around the campsite exploring. Both of us basking in the sunshine, playing in the gently flowing river, enjoying the smell of the green grass, the gentle swaying of the trees, and the views of vast snow capped mountains off in the distance. This is what I have been waiting for, this moment right here is what I have been looking forward to every single day for the last 4 months.

It's easy to lose your connection with the outdoors, it's easy to become disconnected. I strive to keep that connection, to keep the admiration for nature even if its only thirty minutes sitting in the green grass in a city park or two days spent lost in the wilderness with my best friend. Any amount of time allows you to regain that connection. I feel that being engulfed in nature, allows me to be a better person. I appreciate how every aspect intertwines and works together. How an entire ecosystem can rely on even the smallest of elements.

As Riley and I explore our campsite and the surrounding area we take an afternoon walk and I realize how different my life has been in the last year, how different I am as a person from the previous summer when we spent time camping in this exact same area. It gave me a different perspective and how a short amount of time can alter your view of how you want to approach life. I feel connected with every single element of my surroundings. I feel connected with every single tree, with the gently flowing river, the captivating mountains, the birds flying overhead, with the deer roaming in the wilderness around me. It's a connection that cannot be replicated or taken for granted. It's important for all of us to retain that connection and to never lose that.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Kalli Hawkins

Adventure | Conservation | Education