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December in the North Carolina mountains smells like wet rhododendron and spring. With the temperature hovering in the low 70s, everyone in this small town seems to be out with their dogs and babies on the trail, including me, sans dogs and babies, and temporarily at least, without grad school applications to torture me with the prospect of impossible decisions. It had been a while since I let my thoughts and boots meander across rocks and leaves. Through a see-through twig forest, hiding nothing, and violet branches and moss dripping with light. Engulfed by nature like that, I return to the frame of mind that believes, contrary to the voice of brands and rankings, that to explore and to think and be curious about things is enough. Contrary even to my own ambitions, and maybe even to my own needs, on the trail I only care to love and discover – anything, everything – and to maybe eat something good in town after we’re through with walking. For the time being, it matters not what.



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