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Another week, another weekly photo challenge, this time on the theme “free spirit.” I looked through my digital shots and actually only found 2 candidates. One features my dog, who certainly fits the description of a free spirit, especially when she’s playing “trail puppy.” But I picked the other photo.

Nothing frees my spirit like a hike in the wilderness (and I do mean wilderness.) The longer the trip, the more I feel freed. For days on end, challenges arise in the moment and are left behind as soon as they are resolved; they don’t weigh me down. I’m free to go wherever the trail may lead me, at my own pace, in my own style. No matter how distressing my everyday life, hitting the trail boosts my spirits by freeing me from myself just enough to relax and revive.

This shot was taken during a week-long 60-mile backpack in the Adirondacks. Mud is simply a matter of fact for most Adirondack trails, so we often wear knee-high gaiters to keep water and mud out of the tops of our boots. Without them, I would have lost my boots many times over to boggy mud pits, like the one that sucked me in to mid-thigh last October.

Mud is good for the soul.