My hiking trip out to North Point State Park

By LILY KAIRIS | October 19, 2017

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PUBLIC DOMAIN North Point State Park is in Baltimore County, next to the Chesapeake.

I’ll be honest: When I sat down to write this article, I had no idea where to begin. “Fun activities and events in Baltimore.” What a foreign concept! When was the last time I luxuriated in something like that?

These days my weekends are games of catch-up, allowing my brain to reset, my social life to briefly rejuvenate and my personal hygiene to regain a semi-acceptable status. I take my luxuries (i.e. a podcast on a Friday afternoon, or a Saturday morning at the farmer’s market) sparingly.

But in my perfect world, life wouldn’t be this jam-packed. As a senior, I’m trying to reassert the importance of relaxation in my life.

So in that vein, in preparing to craft this article, I tried to think back to the most relaxing Baltimore weekend in my recent memory. One particular day stuck out ­— last spring, when I went hiking with Outdoor Pursuits through North Point State Park.

Ironically enough, that wasn’t the initial plan for the trip. We were supposed to go sea kayaking through Annapolis.

My sorority big was a sea kayaking instructor, and this was the last trip she’d lead before graduating. My best friend Maggie was also a sea kayaker, and even I was, up until I quit the group my sophomore year (in classic Hopkins style, prioritizing my career). Going on this trip felt almost like my homecoming.

It was a cloudy day in early May, 40 percent chance of rain, and so we opted to hike through North Point instead of risking stormy waters. We set out around 9 a.m., earlier than usual for me on a Saturday, but as we drove the 30 minutes north, jamming out to alternative hip-hop and folk (courtesy of my aux cord), I felt incredibly awake.

I think something about travel — moving far from the realm of my routines — will always, inevitably, energize me.

The hike itself was easy-going and undemanding. We followed the trail through the forested areas of the park, which lasted five miles before opening out to the beach. Our pace was calm; the eight of us chatted (some friends, others strangers) as we moved up the incline, conversations swerving from summer camp to European vs. American culture to favorite Baltimore brunch spots.

Then after two hours, we emerged from the undergrowth to find a sandy beach, where we stopped for lunch. Four members of the group (Molly and her senior friends), started skipping stones along the water.

Skipping stones is an odd skill I’ve never quite understood (Is my wrist just not equipped for this sorcery?), but watching them, I felt inexplicably calmed. How rare is it that I spend a day staring at slow-moving waves, munching on a sandwich, feeling a salty breeze whisper on my skin while watching 21-year-olds skip stones on the ocean?

The whole experience felt almost cinematic; Lord of the Flies come to life (minus the chauvinism and savagery, of course). My transcript might label this as “wasting time,” but to me, this was time well spent.

After lunch, through a strange turn of events, I ended up coaching the whole group through a yoga routine. It was bizarre but beautiful.

Little did this random collection of acquaintances know, I’ve always held a secret pipe dream of becoming an ultra-zen, environmentalist, positive-thinking yoga coach. In this pipe dream I’m probably teaching yoga in Prague, Barcelona or the South of France.

Instead I was showing a bunch of very non-yoga male seniors how to do a bent-knee triangle and instructing them to “let their breathing be their guide.” In the back of my mind, I relished in this odd opportunity for power.

My favorite part of the entire afternoon, however, was on the hike back, when we stumbled upon an abandoned warehouse in the middle of the forest.

The building was completely hollowed-out — with its walls kicked down and gaping holes in the ceiling covered in thick ivy. It had become a sort of makeshift gallery; every square inch of wall, floor-to-ceiling, was covered in graffiti.

But not the graffiti you usually imagine in untamed areas (nothing but expletives and “Insert Name was here”). Instead these images were legitimate pieces of art — I remember, in specific: a jack-o-lantern, a fairy’s profile, a frightening image of an atomic bomb, a collection of trees and an alien.

We were all so in-awe of this hidden gem that we spent forty-five minutes taking a photoshoot there. It was wonderful. I remember when I got home from the trip that evening, after I showered off all the forest grime, I lay on my bed and perused the photos: my friends and I walking through the meadow, doing downward dogs together on the beach and posing in the warehouse.

I had low expectations for this trip, but it turned out to be exactly what I didn’t know I needed: six hours of complete escape from my worries.

It was a brief cruise through a world in which time moves slowly, activities are spontaneous and conversations focus around more than just Hopkins. I remembered that a world outside this college bubble really does exist.

As a senior, I’ve realized that it is moments like these (moments of perspective) that put me the most at peace.

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