Welcome back, my dear fellow explorers, to The Plains West of Thomasville. Where each week I take you along as I explore everything these Ozark hills have to offer. As always, the hope is that you will read my stories, see my photographs, and feel spurred to go out and have adventures of your own.
More than a month has ticked by since my last installment, and in that column I explored the Irish Wilderness.
The Irish Wilderness is named because it was settled by Irish immigrants before the Civil War. Lead by a Catholic Priest, Father John Hogan, it was a place to escape the difficult urban life of the time. However, caught between the armies of the North and the South and harassed by raiders, they disappeared during the war and their fate remains a mystery.
This week I don’t have a grand adventure to relay, more of an experience. It gave me some much needed perspective on the paradise we are surrounded by, and I hope my experience can help others find the same.
This past weekend, I traveled with my family to Dawt Mill, a place I’ve been hundreds of times throughout my life. Crossing the small bridge to the public access side of the river, I’m always struck by beauty of river. This time of year seems to really bring out the beautiful blues and greens of the water.
We parked the mighty RAV4 and made our way to the water. No chairs, no towels, and no plan. Seating was provided for us by Mother Nature in the form of large rocks that seemed to carved just right for sitting.
My stepdaughter and I spent some time skipping stones, trying to reach the other bank. At 16, it’s amazing that she even wants to spend time with us. I’m not sure what it is about water that makes everyone feel obligated to throw rocks into it.
I settled onto my rock and the warmth of the sunshine, the sound of the rushing water, and the smell of the Ozarks filled up my senses. I found myself completely in awe of the beauty of the shades of color present in the water. Even though it has been a few years, I still can’t wrap my head around how different the river looks since the dam was removed.
Within a few minutes though, I found myself restless, needing to get up and hike or explore or take pictures or something. I needed adventure, stimulation.
“Slow down, take it all in,” I thought to myself. I forced myself to be still, to appreciate the gift of my surroundings, and not demand more from it. In my stillness, I began to think about how I approach my hikes and other outdoor adventures.
When I hit the trail, it seems like I’m always more focused on what is ahead of me, rather than what is around me in the moment. The good part is always just around the bend, just over the next hill.
Sitting beside the river with my family and the beauty of Ozark County all around me, I realized that was the good part. I didn’t need to see what was around the corner.
While hikes through the Ozarks hills are fun and exhilarating, and offer opportunities to see brand new sights, it can be incredibly fulfilling to experience a familiar place in a new way.
Don’t spend all of your time looking ahead, slow down, take it all in.
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