I have to say, I wasn’t actually looking forward to attending the wedding at all.
Don’t get me wrong, I had been friends with both the bride and groom since before they had ever even started dating. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy a good party, either. When it comes to weddings, it goes without saying that there’s going to be good food, good drinks, and terrible dancing (which, ironically enough, makes it good). These are all things that I should have been looking forward to, but I wasn’t.
My own fiance had recently decided that I might not be the one for him, and had asked me to give back the french-cut-with-square-diamond engagement ring that he had slipped on my finger only a few months before. C’est la vie. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it had taken my self confidence down a few pegs. Whatever the case, I was in no mood to celebrate matrimony.
Still, it was my duty. I had managed to get out of being the Maid of Honor, thanks to the bride having a sister, but it still would have been downright offensive not to show up at all. I’d been the bride’s roommate for three semesters in college, for crying out loud, I had to go to the wedding.
So, I mustered up my courage, and I went. Boy, am I ever glad that I did.
The wedding was held at Stonehurst Manor in North Conway, New Hampshire. Now, I can’t speak for other New Hampshire weddings, but the one I attended was fantastic. Far from spending the weekend wallowing in my own self pity (as had been my plan), I had an absolute blast, almost from the moment I arrived. The manor is perfectly situated to take advantage of the breathtaking views around it; specifically the White Mountains that seem to come up right to the back door. When I got out of the car and saw those incredible peaks scraping the thin clouds above, I fell in love
From that point on, things only got better. The wedding was beautiful, yet simple. At no point during the festivities did I feel envious or bitter, I just enjoyed the celebration with my friends. I even led some of that aforementioned bad dancing (of course, it took a few martinis to get me onto that dance floor, but so what?). But throughout the entire wedding, I found my mind constantly getting drawn back to those mountains. By the time the bride and groom had retired to their suit, I had made up my mind.
I’ve always enjoyed a good hike, and anytime I get a chance, I throw on my hiking boots, grab a few energy bars and head out into nature to explore. And here I was at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains that were just begging for some TLC. I had some vacation days built up from work (although the boss probably wouldn’t like me taking them on such short notice), and most importantly, I had a need. I needed to get out there and figure myself out. I needed to feel the simple strain of muscles on the trail. I needed to do this.
So after the wedding festivities, I took the initiative and set up my adventure. It took a little bit of planning (after all, I had come to town to attend a wedding, and knew that I wouldn’t have much time to mess around if I were going to squeeze in a three day backpacking trip).
I made my way into town and bought the extra supplies that I knew I would need. I already had packed my tent, a sleeping bag, proper clothing, and a cooking stove so all I needed at the store was enough food to last me, and a few little odds and ends for the trail. I looked over some maps and planned my trip. I chose the Franconia Ridge because I’ve heard it’s a favorite of many thru-hikers. It also is about a 9 mile loop hike (3 miles a day was exactly what I was looking for to clear my head) and since I would be leaving my car, this hike made it easy to start and end in the same place.
The next morning, my spontaneous adventure began. The weather was lovely, and the mountains beckoned me on. The trip was exactly what I needed. The views were incredible and the waterfalls, breathtaking. There was some scrambling involved, which I appreciated because I wanted a challenge. Sure, there were times when I thought that I must have been crazy to want to do this (it’s pretty well traveled so I figured I could get help if I absolutely needed it), and other times when I wanted to extend my hike indefinitely. However, even when I was drinking watery coffee or dumping rocks out of my boots, I could feel the sense of purpose, of direction that this trip had come to represent. And when I finally made my way back down out of those majestic mountains, I felt like my old self again. There’s just something about being out in nature that helps me to feel alive. I felt like I was able to tap into something that had been lost over the past few months and maybe even the past few years. But somehow, each time I take a trip like this I feel like I can go home and deal with the world again.
Who would have thought? It would take a wedding (and a whole lot of walking) to help get me over my breakup. But there you have it! If you need to clear your head, head to the mountains for loads of fresh air and you’re bound to get some clear thinking.
Author Bio: Lindsey Patterson is an outdoor enthusiast and an experienced world traveler and works to promote pride in homegrown travel destinations.