December 21, 2016. It is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. There are only nine hours and forty six minutes from sunrise to sunset. Regardless of daylight or time of the year, it’s another opportunity to get out and enjoy life.
An impromptu relay adventure began with bundled and layered cyclists leaving the U.S. National Whitewater Center at precisely 7:28am. The hustle and bustle of Uptown Charlotte’s workday commute quickly faded as the team ventured east. The country roads of rural Piedmont NC winded towards the tree-line confines of Uwharrie National Forrest.
At a small boat launch at the intersection of NC Highway 109 and the Uwharrie River, an exchange of personnel, human powered craft occurred.
The river was chilly and since the water level was low, the rocky sections required heightened attention in order to navigate the Standup Paddleboards. Appreciating the moment required slowing down. Both undisturbed and picturesque landscapes surrounded river bend after river bend. Crossing the Pee Dee River to Morrow Mountain State Park would lead to the third and final leg of our journey.
Understanding that we were losing the race against the sun, the team reconvened and mapped out the fastest route to the summit of Morrow Mountain. Part road running, part trail running, and inclusive of an unexpected and steep final push, the team was greeted with an expansive and spectacular summit view at 5:13pm. Just 2 minutes shy of the day’s official sunset.
What began as an idea to over-utilize the shortest day of the year, turned into a full day of dreaming about what other adventures lay beneath our noses, so close to home.
Adam Bratton is the Marketing Director at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
If only adventure was like some sort of sickness, and the cure could be found with some sort of cleanse, to flush the need for such things out of the body.
Since I began journeying into the wilder places of the world, adventure has only become more intriguing, more provocative. The contrast between a life that society claims as normal (live to work) and the life I try to lead (work to live) has only grown more obvious. The need to venture into new experiences has become an integral part of who I am.
I have listened to several people telling me they’d like to go on an adventure, hoping to “get it out of their system”. I can’t help but crack a smile. If only it worked like that… I’d be in a far different place than I am now, somewhere I’d probably rather not be. I probably wouldn’t have moved to Alaska. I probably wouldn’t have hiked the Appalachian Trail. I certainly wouldn’t have lead others to experience places I had never seen myself. I most definitely would not have hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. If only I had gotten it out of my system…what a scary thought.
I am delighted adventure doesn’t work that way. We try to evict and constrict adventure, like so many other things in life. No, the adventures and new experiences of life are what mold and form us into the people we are. I know I’d be a far worse person without mine, and I am so glad that they are not out of my system.
If only we could get adventure into everyone’s system.
Kern Ducote is currently El Capitan of Content Creation with Patagonia’s Worn Wear Tour. For more of his work, check out https://www.kernducote.com/.
When I look back through my catalog of images, most of my favorites have one theme in common; they were shot from up in the trees. The vantage from within the trees is something that I almost always envision when I set out to a location. It helps frame the trails, actions, and landscapes in ways that we might not always get to experience, and often times reveals features that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. From climbing (and subsequently falling out of) pine trees as a youth, to years spent as a carpenter working with wood, trees have played a very central and formative role in nearly every aspect of my life.
A lot can be learned from our forests and how they persevere through adversity, whether it be fire, snow, wind, or drought. The trees tend to be able to rebound, adapt, and cling on to life, even in the harshest of environments. They can grow on inhospitable rock faces, and even a few sustain life in desert environments. They tell the stories of the years hardship with the bows in their trunks, and crooks in their branches. They gift us with the ability to build shelter and to warm ourselves as they pass into their afterlife. When you take lumber and begin to work it into a home, or a piece of furniture, you become intimately familiar with the grain formed over the years of growth and adversity. It affects the blade as it cuts, binds the motor of the saw as wind loaded grain springs together after a cut. As the sandpaper cuts and wears down the rough and rugged exterior, beautiful patterns emerge in the grains that were hidden just out of sight.
Of all the things I’ve learned from trees over the years, a few stand out as a mantra for living a healthy and fulfilled life. These are the teachings of the trees, and are the things that I have taken away from a life of admiring forests in all of their states of being. Stand tall, drink lots of water, enjoy the view, and remember your roots.
Tim Koerber can be found buying one-way plane tickets to countries he didn’t know existed the day before. For more of his work, check out https://www.timkoerber.com/.