Being alone on the precipice of the unknown, relying on raw senses to guide, is exhilarating. A certain brazenness is required to explore this unfamiliar forest. Awareness of the surroundings must take focus. This is a wild area; rightly so because of the inhabitants. Many plants and animals have evolved to take advantage of when my guard is let down. Venomous animals and poisonous plants, large and small, will wound or kill if allowed. Many can’t deal with being this alone. I feel the rewards outweigh the possible repercussions.

I have reoccurring desires to live primitively. These feelings, although not unique, are likely to be misunderstood. An incredible amount of effort has been misplaced producing cures. Complexity is not the only key to survival. Although these paths seem noble, they only carry us all faster and further into oblivion; as the land is stripped bare, the waters poisoned into a synthetic chemical broth, and the skies blacken with smog and robotic refuges. It happens in front of our eyes, but is too easily and often out of focus.

There exists a need to welcome people on this earth, just as much as there exists a need to preserve it. The intentions of a few can mar the balance that took many of our lifetimes to attain. I often observe that people can be more of a danger to me than anything I’ll find out here.

My essentials for today’s hike consist of water, a knife, map, extra batteries, and a flashlight (even though it’s 1:00 in the afternoon). It’s easy to start second-guessing direction when everything looks similar. The mind is easily confused and begins to play tricks. I think I’m one place but am actually another, and what I think is around the next bend is really a great distance away. Navigating becomes a challenging game- one that constantly has my curiosity piqued.

I appreciate the often great efforts that cooperate to empower an act as simple as lying down to close my eyes and being safe. The work that built our homes, phones, and escalators has a forgotten heritage that is largely taken for granted. Not here. Walking these deep trails in rugged boots distracts from how vulnerable I really am. Realizing this is to my advantage. I tell myself, “I don’t need the boots” and soon slip them off in spirit of an all together different comfort.

I pick up a brief sweet scent and shift my breathing from my mouth to my nose. It’s nearly incomprehensible as to how it took me this long to discover this whole other world benieth my nose. My nerves tingle as my sinuses engorge with blood with each deep breath. The city rarely has the types of pleasantries to encourage this kind of attention. Rather, the smog encountered promotes a strong sinal disdain. The next sensations trickle aromatic signatures before swelling to a torrential geyser up through my consciousness, similar to the intensity one experiences taking the first bites of truly spicy Indian food or opening your eyes to the first glimpse the bright morning sun. It takes concentration at first to disassemble the cacophony of data flooding in. Easier it becomes and I soon find myself, eyes closed, following fragrances as varied as colors and sounds. I’ve awakened, and compelled to take another tramp through the woods.

Kyle Gabriel

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