It looked like I could reach up and grab the stars. The sky was so full of the glittering dots that I could lay there all night and not be able to count them all. I didn’t know that many existed. Usually, at home in Stafford, Virginia, the stars seem far and distant, their brightness muted by the dull glow that still existed at night thanks to the bustling neighborhoods and nearby schools. At home, I never took the time to glance up at the sky at night, or walk through the woods without a cell phone in my pocket. I let nature pass me by, not realizing that I was a part of it.
But up there, at 10,500 feet in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the stars were overwhelming, both in number and in brightness. Dad and I had just finished hiking up “Hell Hill” after a long day of elk hunting, and were laying on our back packs watching the sky and enjoying the cold mountain air. We could hear the elk moving around us coming out to feed in the cool safe hours of night, the bulls grunting and cows barking when they caught our scent. This was nature at its best. There were no artificial lights, no human noise; just pure nature. Our game animals taunted us with their presence, but we sat and marveled at their intelligence, enjoying the night time equality and peace.
This is what I believe in: the appreciation of nature, and the power it holds over all human beings in our lives. I believe in being able to accept equal footing in the ruggedness of the mountains, or the depths of a forest. I believe in the appreciation of the animals I hunt and what they provide me with. And I believe in the power of the stars; their beauty that can allow you to find a kind of peace that isn’t possible within the walls of a concrete building in the middle of a city. The mountains are one of my favorite places to escape to. It is there that I am able to clear my head and realize that life is what we make it. In Colorado elk hunting, I can forget about the pressures of school and other self-imposed obstacles that I stress over. I can take the time and appreciate the world that we live in, the simplicity of nature, and the calm that comes with it. I can lie back at night and reach out to grab the stars, and I believe that every person should take the time to do just that.