It was a crisp November Saturday, the kind that starts out requiring a fleece, hat and gloves. Each breath I took was visible in the chilly mountain air, and every face in the group had a flushed hue, caused by exertion plus cold air.
On the Tuesday prior to this day, America elected a new president. There was no escaping the ensuing cacophony. Each political side was equally vocal and equally passionate. I felt trapped. I would awaken to my radio alarm and be subjected to callers desperately wanting someone to listen to their political musings, one after another after another. Turning on the TV was no better, as not only did you get to hear but also see newscasters barrage us with unending stories of what we already knew- America was a divided nation. At the office, I was subjected to the diatribes of thoughtless colleagues. Raw emotions of course bled over to social media, which was infiltrated with so much inflammatory content that there was no choice but to avoid using it at all costs. It was as if all the words from the expressions of contempt and anger I was subjected to during the day formed a funnel cloud that swirled around me constantly.
And then Saturday came. The woods were aglow with the comforting colors of Fall. It was silent.
Once we set off, the only sound was the repetitive crunch, crunch, crunch made by sturdy boots marching upon the thick layer of dead leaves blanketing the trail. The fallen leaves wore a thin white coat of frost which had come in the night. There was mottled sunlight coming through the trees. Gradually our adrenaline and our blood began to pump as we ascended. Layers were shed. Lighthearted chatter started as our brains and bodies warmed up. Newly purchased down jackets and vests were oohed and aahed over. Plans for future adventures were hatched. After a few hours, we stopped in a grassy clearing to eat lunch. There were plenty of large flat rocks that had been warmed by the sun for everyone to sit on. One hiker surprised us by revealing a bottle of wine and a stack of plastic cups he had clandestinely stowed in his backpack for sharing.
We hiked on, our bellies full and our heads a bit vacuous from the impromptu wine tasting. The rest of the day brought more of the same. We steadily surged on, uphill then downhill, into the woods and then through a clearing. Sunglasses on, sunglasses off. We stopped at scenic overlooks for photo shoots and water breaks, and the crackling sound of a granola bar wrapper could be heard. After another few hours, we made it back to the trailhead feeling sweaty but accomplished. On the way home, we enjoyed some additional group camaraderie at our dinner stop. Laughter and feelings of familiarity were plentiful as we reminisced about our day in the mountains.
On that November day, we spent the day saying nothing; and to me, that says everything.