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Being Here

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Sometimes there are no words to express the joy we feel.

As we hiked up the path towards Uncle’s Falls, in-between conversations and Chris Paul’s wonderful teaching moments, we enjoyed the silence and the sounds of the woods. A Carolina wren’s chirping suddenly sounded from the canopy as we made our way through thick rhododendron tunnels on the left-side trail. It continued to chatter, coaxing us along, until we were clear of what we believed to be a nest area.

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Before long, we turned the final corner of the trail and the magical natural beauty of the waterfall edged into view, peeking through a stand of starkly straight tulip poplars and crooked sourwoods. Taking a pause to collect our thoughts and prepare to Polar Bear, we basked in the glory of a morning that had turned the sky from clouded to the very clearest blue.

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For the next hour, everything seemed to move in graceful slow motion. It was as if we were meant to all be here, in a shared moment of happiness and appreciative wonder. While Polar Bearing with close friends has always been a hallmark of Mentor Hikes at GRP, I had yet to see such support for one another. While the Whippoorwills ducked under the falls, they stood as one, and their bond was so evidently clear as they high-fived in an epic display of togetherness and joy for that moment. It was then that I saw an exchange of smiles and laughter that held more substance than words could express. These are the moments that last. This is what it is to experience life to the fullest. This is GRP.

Story & photos by Brandon S. Marshall