I was in devil’s country. In the chilly reaches of the midwest far from my warm southern home. Where the last chills of winter mingled with the taste of spring and just a hint of summer teased the air around me. A gloom had settled over the day, threatening rain, but the company I kept was warm and nothing could dampen our excitement.
Except maybe the stairs. The stairs of rough-hewn rock that loomed up ahead and wound their way clinging to the edge of the rock face around Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin. The stairs that with the slightest hint of moisture became a challenge course in balance and footwear grip.
The stairs I had heard so much about from my Chicago-based comrades. Maybe because we took them so slow, maybe because we paused to take in so many scenes and so many pictures and because our backpacks and hearts were so light or all my cycling had finally paid off in leg strength, but the stairs didn’t seem too bad that day. And the views surrounding them were well worth the burning leg muscles.
When the tree line thinned, the vista opened to a stunning view of the lake. The crumpled configurations of a thousand boulders and rocks were more than enough to delight the eye - their hues of reds and grays and lichen-covered sides telling the story of a thousand years of transformation.
And the green, the green everywhere - the whole place was rich with its smell. The fresh smell of rain and new growth awakening to the life of the warm season. Back home, I don’t see many seasons change. Normally we have just have hot and hotter, but here there was transition and change and the freshness of renewal. I drank it in with each breath.
The weather alternated between shedding layers climbing the stairs and piling them back on when we reached the top of the rock face and the wind whipped through the crags and burrowed under our skin.
We took our time - relishing that here, at least, the world existed outside the unending rush of modern times. The only clock was the ticking pace of one foot in front of the other as the wind chimed through the trees and the lapping water of the lake brushed my heart with its softness.
It’s only here, in the wild heart of the world, as the rocky earth pounds underneath my feet that my mind truly quiets. That all else falls away and all thoughts lay to rest and the only thing left is completely alive existence. Like a superhero with heightened senses attuned only to the pulsating rhythm of life in all its purity.
Written by: Lauren Bringle.