The day we left I wrote in my journal, “But still—sometimes the mundanity of life overwhelms the grandness of it, and we lose sight of the forest for all those trees.” We are standing atop a butte in North Carolina called Devil’s Courthouse when this thought I had came back to me—and not least because we were, literally, standing above wave after wave of trees, rippling out into the distance like a sea—getting bluer as they neared the horizon, so the last few swells nearly matched the sky. Take a deep breath, I tell myself, and remember this moment.

It has been a whirlwind of a few months—long days away from my home, weeks away from my dog and the place that anchors me. In this time, I’ve spoken other languages and hiked many miles, I’ve slept in tents, hotels, on planes, above a boathouse, I’ve read good books and one so bad I stopped halfway through, I’ve run through my neighborhood at almost first light, I’ve driven, and ridden, and flown for, now, finally, too long. I thrive on this discomfort—I love travelling, not despite the unsettledness of it, but because of it. It is hard for my steady heart to feel nomadic, but it’s in the stretching between the two that I can feel myself grow the most. I am reminded of what matters to me, I am allowed the room to reignite passion, and I am afforded many views that help me regain perspective.

The Smokies were not, immediately, my kind of mountains. There were no discernible peaks, no tree lines that left only rock thrusting up to meet the sky. There were fewer pine trees than sycamores, more tangled underbrush than soft waves of grass. But they grew on me, after a while. The sharp edges of the Cascades are a grand reminder of our time as a speck on the wind, that we are, ultimately a brief spark of consciousness in a world that has existed long before us, and will continue long after us. There is something liberating in that feeling, something terrible and awesome. These ranges were gentler, to me, instead of feeling smaller and insignificant, I felt expansive, spread out, as if the trees took my thoughts and spread it across the whole of the landscape. In this time I’ve spent out and away, I was in both kinds of mountains, and bizarrely it was this range that made me feel, right now, most at home.

All this to say, I have been distracted and wandering, but now I am back with many a story to get caught up on. I left this blog in Montana, but so much learning and light has been shared and received since then that I feel hardly the same person at all. I am hunkering down to pass it on, to serve that old odd impulse, to record and write, and remember.