Grandma didn’t know it before we left on our trip. Heck, I didn’t know it before we left. I was unaware it was even possible to feel the way I felt. The feeling was a profound sense of peace. It was something new… I could practically see the pathways of ideas running through my mind. And it would never have happened had I not gone to my 68 year old grandma with a hair brained idea which I had not thought through.
The thing was, I just was so excited. I couldn’t WAIT to tell Grandma about my new plans with my bestie. I met up with Grandma and she listened intently about my plans - she really is supportive and amazing like that. I was animated as I went on and on about trekking across the states, about seeing the wildlife, and being immersed in nature. I talked about the research I had done in reaction to supply pick up points, gear, and people I may meet on the trail. We were going to do a threw hike on the Application Trail! Dang if we weren’t simply over the moon about it!
I imagine my excitement would have been infections to most people but not Grandma. She is full of life and has a joyful spark which is undeniable. Grandma also has the ability to fly with big dreams while keeping one foot attached to logistics. This time, she lovingly and stoically looked at me, and said, “Well, Audrey… maybeyou should TRY backpacking first.”
I can still remember my chest fallen feeling and the simple realization that Grandma was a genius. She had dropped a pretty bomb with her capacity for reality. She then told me that visiting a place called Isle Royale was on her bucket list and she told me she would take me with her because she needed someone to go with. I had never heard of this island and I certainly didn’t know what it would come to mean to me.
This adventure seemed like a win-win! I had a practice trip and Grandma got to mark an item off her bucket list. We got together to plan our meals and to figure out what gear we each needed. I didn’t know anything about hiking really but Grandma did. Grandma organized and led our trip like a pro. Before I knew it, the day had arrived.
We drove 10 hours to get to the first stop, and the next day we took a three hour boat ride to the island. I couldn’t have been more excited!
Day one was awful… day two was awful… my back hurt, my feet hurt, my legs hurt, my shoulders hurt from carrying the pack. This had been a terrible decision and I absolutely HATED backpacking. I really wondered what I had gotten myself into. I was very confident I would never be doing this again. I tried not to complain, but you’ll have to ask Grandma how I did on that.
As the hours went by, something miraculous started to happen. For the first time ever as an adult, I began to relax. As in, truly relax. A type of mental relaxation that I find difficult to describe. I could feel the tension in my brain start to dissolve. While I had been focused on each painstaking step, I had completely missed the fact that my brain was delighted. My mind felt true… peace.
It was a type of peace that I have not found doing anything else. I can only describe it as my brain having the space to think. By day three I began journaling. The rest of the trip I wrote down things about my dreams, my goals, my frustrations, my excitements, things I was angry about and didn’t know how to deal with. Things that made me happy and that I wanted to expand. Just everything and anything really.
And new ideas came to mind. I really felt like my brain was suddenly working in a way it had never worked before. There was a freedom in it that and I had new ideas about all areas of my life.
After the trip, it became very clear to me that we never unplug. We talk a lot about self-care, self-love, unplugging, going on vacation, but I have come to believe that we all struggle to figure out how to truly let our mind take a break. One big reason is that we never give ourselves permission to disconnect to that level. We never give ourselves approval to just be in the moment and to really allow our minds a chance to be free from the rat race for just that minute.
I fell in love with backpacking that week because I saw the immeasurable power in stepping away from the daily grind. I went home with a list of things to accomplish, ways to solve problems, and new things to learn about.
Grandma and I had a wonderful trip. I learned a lot of about hiking safety and the importance of keeping together. I learned that I packed to way too much – I didn’t bring anything that time and I brought LESS the next trip! I made great memories with my grandmother that will be with me the rest of my life. Thank heaven for Grandma’s who keep us on the path to dreams.
Isle Royale calls to Grandma and I. The island sends her song of welcome on the air waves and invites each of us to take part in her offer of peace… we need only respond to her call. We need only accept her offer of contentment. The island is there waiting for you. Tell her hello for me. I will see her again soon
My name is Audrey and I live in Michigan, US with my hubby, little daughter, and my enormous black cat. I am the founder of Three Happy Turtles and my mission is to empower YOU to trust and bellevue in yourself through travel and adventure. Love to each of you, can't wait to hear from you!