Years ago I spent a cool July night in the high reaches of the Colorado Rockies. My goal was a little known mountain lake the locals raved about.
After hours of hiking without seeing a soul in air that grew thinner with every step and a backpack filled with lead, I began to worry that I'd lost the trail and argued with myself about turning back, it was at that point that I stumbled, literally, upon a magnificent plateau and there she was, splendorous and sparkling in the sunshine waiting to be admired. That night I lay under the celestial bowl wrapped in a down sleeping bag, feeling insignificant in a sky so blanketed with stars there seemed little room for the heavy blackness in between.
Too awestruck and exhausted to repeat my "there is nothing to fear but fear itself" mantra, I drifted off to the sounds of wolves howling in the distance and dreamed of the little girl I thought I'd lost, hugging the fawn my Grandpa found on the railroad tracks alone and in need of care. I awakened at first light to an intense stillness so complete I was overwhelmed by a feeling of loneliness, as if the world below had dropped away, and just as quickly that emotion was replaced by a profound sense of peace that left me never wanting to rise from the moment.
That lake is never far from me. Isn't that really what travel provides for us? In addition to memories, we're rewarded with a glimpse into ourselves that we never knew existed.