Lessons Learned on the Trail
Written by Meaghan Duda
On March 17th, I had the opportunity to go on the Hike & Yoga trip to Round Top Mountain in Northern Arkansas. It was one of the first weekends that it truly felt like spring outside. The air was a bit chilly but warm in the sun with a light breeze every once in a while: perfect weather for hiking! I could not have asked for a better day to kick off my first trip with 37 North.
We gathered at Farmer’s Park in Springfield and loaded into the van around 8:00am before heading to Branson. There, we picked up two additional riders and made our way down to Northern Arkansas. When the Buffalo River first came into sight, everyone in the bus stretched their necks to see out the windows. I have never seen such radiantly blue water. Conversations about future float trips, stand up paddle boarding, and kayaking adventures immediately broke out. Minutes later, we arrived at the base of Round Top Mountain and began our ascent. We climbed about 350 feet to reach the top, hiking roughly 4 miles in total during the day.
It’s impossible to recount all of the little moments of the trip, so I decided instead to share 5 simple lessons that I learned that day on the trail:
Keep your eyes open.
The Ozarks region is home to endless unique rock formations and other geological sights. Within the first few minutes of our hike, our tour guide pointed out several small caves that were hidden away in the hillside. We also came across an impressive array of large shelf mushrooms that had taken over a tree as well as an interesting rock formation that had created a secret passageway to explore.
Humility is key.
I started the walk off very confidently, placing myself toward the front of the group. However, less than 10 minutes in, I lost my footing on a log and completely wiped out. It certainly wasn’t the most glamorous moment of the day, and when I stood back up I was covered from head to toe in leaves and dirt. Thankfully, everyone very kindly made sure that I was alright, and I happily accepted my new role as the clumsiest hiker in the group.
Each one of us has unique experiences that brought us here to 37 North.
Our group of adventurers was a bit of an eclectic mix that spanned a wide range of backgrounds and ages. We had a few hikers who were more experienced and well versed on all things outdoors. On the other hand, there were some of us who are relatively new to both hiking and yoga. A few people had been on trips before, but many of us were newcomers. Some members of the group were moms who said that they needed a worry free, no hassle, pre-planned day outside. They were thrilled that 37 North offered them this opportunity to try something new and everything had been taken care of for them.
Yoga isn’t as easy as it looks…
But it sure is worth it! Especially when you get to be outside on the top of a mountain, looking out at the beautiful Ozarks scenery. Our wonderful instructor, Marisa, led us in a relaxing, rejuvenating session. I had never done yoga before, and I quickly realized that I had underestimated how much patience and balance it can require! Nonetheless, I was left feeling completely at peace and connected to the nature around us.
Strangers can quickly become friends.
I remember feeling a little hesitant at the start of the day because I didn’t know most of my fellow group members. However, by the time we sat down for a meal at the end of the hike, all of that nervousness had long disappeared. We were no longer a quiet group of strangers. In fact, as we ate our hamburgers and fries, we were already diving into everyone’s back stories – where we grew up, what brought us to the Ozarks, what we each do for a living, etc. We ended up staying at the café longer than scheduled because no one wanted to leave.
When we made it back to town later that evening, I found myself wishing that the day didn’t have to be over. I couldn’t wait to get back to that feeling of connectedness and adventure – so that night, I scrolled through the 37 North website and picked out my next trip!