Happy Earth Day, earthlings! So many things I can write about to dedicate this post to Earth Day, but I’m going to go with my love for national parks, since it’s also National Park Week (April 19-27)! Test how well you know your national parks here! I sure learned some fun facts from it.
These past couple of years, I’ve grown very fond of national parks, nearly to the point of obsession (a healthy one I would say). Hiking through national parks have been some of the most rewarding and memorable trips I’ve taken thus far. I wish I can turn back time and be a junior park ranger! Though growing up in nyc, I doubt I even knew what a ‘ranger’ was. That didn’t stop me from getting a junior park ranger cup when I went to Yellowstone last year! —>
Since we’re celebrating the existence of national parks (nice work, Teddy, nice work), I thought it’s high time to reflect on why they’re so wonderful. Here are my three reasons:
1. People at national parks seem to be the happiest people you’ll meet. Everyone’s there to take in the beautiful scenery and enjoy the outdoors; there’s nothing else on the agenda. This positive energy is contagious; it makes you also a happier, nicer person while there. If not, you’re just a grumpy jerk. There’s also a great sense of camaraderie among hikers. It’s un-calculated and easy to lend a helping hand, warn of a bear up ahead, or share some snacks. And the park rangers; they seem to really love their job, and why wouldn’t they (perhaps I should read “Ranger Confidential and find out”).
2. I often find myself drawing life lessons while hiking through a national park. Like…the path less taken can lead to surprising rewards. The harder you have to push yourself to keep moving forward, the sweeter it is when you finally reach what you were aiming for. The easier way could also be the more boring way. It’s all about perspective. Cliches maybe, but it’s good to be reminded of these simple lessons. You can come out from a trip feeling different, perhaps freer or happier, than how you went in, if you allow yourself to be.
3. National parks remind us Mama Nature is still the greatest architect…and the greatest. You will find so many peculiar sites, other-worldly landscapes, panoramas of mountains and more mountains (some snow-capped, those are the best). We’re missing out on so much when we’re hiding away behind our concrete walls. Then, we’re also reminded how small and (debatably) insignificant we are in Earth’s history when we’re standing on or next to million-year-old formations, and how vulnerable we are to a single misstep into a seemingly slow-flowing river or thinning glacier. It’s both humbling and alluring.
My next trip to a national park can’t come soon enough (but is already planned)! Happy National Park Week!