by Raphaëlle Rousseau
Spontaneous escapes are the best since there is no time for built up expectations. Recently, summer sunshine called for an out-of-town adventure and my friend decided to take the lead and rent a log cabin in Franconia, New Hampshire.
The 5-hour drive after work was exciting and we slept peacefully like children. The whole weekend plan was built around one particular activity: hiking the mythic Franconia Ridge. Our party of 10 souls (including 2 dogs) left at sunrise, a small snack in each of our backpacks, all smiles ahead.
The quest was simple, nothing like an expedition in the North Pole, yet it felt like one of the most inspiring forums I’ve ever attended. All hikers were each genius in their field and simple conversations would spark a trillion new ideas. Plus, the way the group collaboratively managed obstacles left me hopeful of the human race. This zero-expectation activity turned into an empowering experience that only mountains and great humans can create.
In the first kilometer, we had to cross a river. What we didn’t know was that one of the dogs, Lucy the Great Dane puppy, had an extreme fear of water. The strong current and rumbling sound of pouring water didn’t help calm her nerves. Instinctively, everybody turned to solution mode and collaborated to find a way to help the dog go further. Some went upstream and found a shallower, less agitated area. Others petted Lucy and spoke to her with a reassuring voice. Even though the other dog went through the water with ease, she resented the liquid. At some point, her master took her in his arms and crossed, holding her tight above the stream. I feel like he absorbed all her fears since the next time we had to cross the same river, she did it without hesitation. We all hiked some rocky parts that were getting slippery around the falls, giving hand to one another to help the climb. Nobody was in a rush and I feel like this joyful collaboration gave Lucy and all of us a little boost of confidence for the challenging ascent to come.
Our breaths got taken away once we reached the alpine section of Lincoln Mountain and turned around to discover the 360 degrees majestic view. As the trees grew smaller, the wind rose and we found a perfect hideout to take a quick break for lunch.
Before us was the famous Franconia Ridge that we had to walk before descending. There are few hikes where a third of the walk takes place at the top. This 1.6km rocky ridge that connects Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette peaks offers spectacular views from all sides. We felt small and impressed by these magnificent landscapes. The horizon so far away made us think of the infinite possibilities that life had to offer.
We discussed how agriculture and food consumption could be more sustainable. We brainstormed on how education could be more adapted to individual abilities and interests. We exchanged how we could inculcate more initiative to students so that children feel they have place and power to pursue their dreams and ideas.
Everybody had different opinions and empowered each other. In that second, I felt lucky to be able to enjoy nature and this unique space with such quality humans. I don’t know if it’s them who saw things differently, or if it’s the action of moving from the ground to the top and changing perspective that stimulated this expansion of minds, but we sure saw things from a whole new angle when we arrived back at the parking lot.
We didn’t change the world that day, but our conversations reinforced our will to try our best and the mountain made us feel like we had the power to do it. It also made me truly thankful to know people who have the guts to believe in the power of adventure, improvised or not. Next time we’ll push the limit a little further and stay overnight for sure!