Ahh, the final entry of the Catskills Diaries, chronicling my solo retreat to a cabin in the mountains. This entry from my personal travel journal was written after I’d returned home, on Saturday morning (October 5th). At this point, I’d had a little time to process the week and what it meant to me. I was starting to feel like myself again, and slowly becoming ready to face the world.
Looking back now, I could not be more thankful for this experience, and everything that it gave me. It really brought me back to life in a time of hopelessness.
But I have hope again. And here is my hope for you, reader: I hope that one day, regardless of your life’s journey, you will go somewhere and be with yourself. It doesn’t have to be in the mountains with no one around, or anywhere in particular. Just a place where you can hear your thoughts, with enough time set aside for you to really listen to them. I think you’ll be surprised, and heartened, by what you have buried deep inside you. I know I was.
Days 4 & 5: Thursday, October 3/Friday, October 4
I stayed in at the cabin until the late afternoon, working. After I finished up, I set off for another hike, this time at the Red Hill Fire Tower in Denning, NY.
On the drive in, I was faced with another dreaded dirt road, only it was called a “seasonal highway” for some reason I couldn’t figure out. I, of course, accidentally passed the entrance for the trailhead and ended up driving through these private YMCA-owned woods. There were rocky cliffs on either side of the road at varying points, and I genuinely thought I might end up stuck, somehow. What if the throughway was out of “season?” How would I turn around? I’m pretty sure backing out would have meant certain death.
Thankfully, at the end, there was a place to turn around, so I was able to not drive off a cliff in the middle of the woods that no one knew I would be in. (Note to self: tell SOMEONE before going out into the wilderness. SERIOUSLY!)
Once I was on the trail, it was a fast, but challenging hike. Maybe I was pushing myself a little too hard because of the time (it was pushing 4 when I arrived at the trailhead). In any case, it was a great workout, an amazing view, and I really wished Dave could have been there to see it. The views at the top of the tower were 360 degrees of mountains. The skies were a little cloudy, so the pictures didn’t come out great, but it was gorgeous up there, if not slightly terrifying (the foundation of the fire tower would shake with the wind. And, when is there not wind at the top of a mountain?!)
I went home and had another relaxing night filled with my favorite activities, and finally triumphed in sitting outside for longer than 15 minutes, stargazing (confession: I was on the phone with Dave, which made me much braver). The night wasn’t as “amazing” in terms of meaning, as Wednesday night had been, but it was fun nonetheless. I finally started to feel ready to go home, and return to the life waiting for me.
On Friday, I hung out for a chunk of the day, working and enjoying the views from the porch one last time, and then took off in the evening.
Overall, I had an incredible week. It was the first time I ever really felt on my own. It was scary as hell being out there with only myself. But I felt independent and I’m really proud of myself for doing that; for braving it. I did it. I was there. I built something just for me. I did something proactive to grow; to once again confront my fears of ending up alone. And even if I do end up alone, at least I’ll be in great company.
Plus, if you can’t stand on your own two feet, you’ll never survive when the world strikes against you.
As for the Catskills, I feel that they are one of the last bastions of unexploited beauty this country has to offer. And they’re only two hours away. I get the notion that I’m now holding the biggest secret in the city and I’m not sure if I want to share it, or if I should keep it for myself. No matter: nobody can take it away from me.
This week, the world was mine and I was its. And we were very much in love.