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It has been too long.

February 3, 2019

Been too long-391

It has been too long since I’ve made writing a part of my routine. It has been too long since I’ve posted something on this little outdoor blog of mine. It has been too long since I expressed whimsically about the way the forest and rivers warm my soul and lift my spirit.

Been too long-178

It was two years ago when I last published a post on here. I have been living my life, moving through major changes of location and relationships, and I find myself back here in suburban St. Louis with as fresh a set of eyes as 40 years of walking a path will allow. I have been working steadily, and as that is a good thing, it has kept me busy and worn out, filling my time and helping me to sleep at night. On the weekends these days, Max and I (along with occasional companions) have been heading out to adventure wherever the compass may point that morning, and it has been enriching and thought filled, and fun. But I haven’t made much time for sharing these adventures.

Somewhere along the line a few years back, the longtime relationship I was in came to an end, by my own choice. It ushered in a period of anxiety and negativity that I have been very contemplative about since. It has caused me to be less about receiving attention and more about paying attention. Maybe a little bit of getting older too.


So then I met a girl and ran away to the woods for a time…but as these things sometimes do, it fell to pieces. Every sign was showing me that the path I was on wasn’t the right one anymore, so I moved back to town to be closer to where my heart resides, with my children and my friends. And that is where I find myself now. A few months in, looking for rhythm and purpose, with my adventure dog roommate in a little two bedroom apartment in South County.

Been too long-404And I have been hiking, more fervently and religiously than before. It has evolved from a practice of casual exploration and wonder to an emotional and physical need. Two and a half miles used to be all I wanted, to fill my cup and bring me peace of mind and body. An exploration of nearby forests to connect with and appreciate, and share with other people, has become at times a trek in search of satisfied exhaustion. I go to the forest for my own mental health, and I feel like this is a sign that either aspects of my personal situation are intensifying internally, or my stamina is outpacing my choice of path. Or maybe it’s just simplicity in…it is just in my nature to keep stepping forward.

Been too long-535So I need to write again, as regular practice. What has primarily been stopping me these past few years is that I haven’t been inspired…driven…to write like I once had. Not that places I’ve visited don’t cause a sparkle in my eye and a grin of wonder across my face…but I just haven’t gotten home and thought “I need to tell people about this place!” These past few years I have been in search of balance between having my own experience, and all the other self imposed obligations that pull at me. Keeping the camera in my pocket and absorbing the hills through just my eyes and my shoes. I have spent more time observing and being solemnly grateful, and less time focusing on how I would tell YOU about it. Well I need to get back to that. I need to discover new places to share. I need to visit them with Max and take pictures and think about the things that cause them to stand out. I need to make myself sit down when I get home, on a regular basis, and put these places into words and images and tell you about them because they have an undefinable worth that I think YOU appreciate. I need to inspire you to go seek those woods out, that natural place I visited that I think you should too. I need to get back to doing something that satisfies a need in me, to express myself, through this little outdoor blog of mine.

Been too long-419Looking for solace, especially as we gain rings on our trunks, has much more to do with the energy we absorb than the energy we expend…but the best place to do both for me and my adventure dog is in the forest, listening for birds and leaves and finding hills to climb and creeks to follow. And it has everything to do with spending our time doing things we love, like hiking and writing. I ran away for a while. I made new friends and cut ties with old ones. Some that I shouldn’t have, on both ends of that spectrum. I needed some time to be shown what is truly important to me. I hope I’m back. I hope I don’t forget the lessons these past few years have taught me. I hope the increased lines in my face and the pull in my ankle remind me. I hope to hold myself to a rededicated focus to share places with you that you ought to go see. Because Max and I have been there, and the experience inspired me to tell you about it.


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Go find adventure, and through that find yourself, because this is your best chance to do it.



-Gabriel Cotton, Writer, Photographer, Explorer

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  1. Carole Lamb Young permalink

    so happy you are back….love your blogs!….a faithful reader#thethirdlamb!

    • Thank you, Carole! I need to keep doing this. It gives a joy that I difficult to find elsewhere. Thank you for being a faithful reader!

  2. Janet Koehler permalink

    Beautiful writing. I have enjoyed the Camping Missouri Facebook page. Please tell us where to go and how to enjoy the trails if one is a novice.

    • I ought to write a post about my thoughts on beginning to hike. That is a good idea, thanks! And for places to go in Missouri that I have visited, check out my “Camping Missouri Adventure Map” on the blog menu. It shows the places I’ve been that i have written about.

  3. Derek permalink

    Great post. Glad to see you back, sharing the woods and inspiring us to do the same.

  4. Tina permalink

    “Looking for solace, especially as we gain rings on our trunks, has much more to do with the energy we absorb than the energy we expend…” I’ve been dwelling on that one for a moment…… You write beautifully Gabe – very heartfelt.

    • Awww, thank you, Tina! Sometimes I’m good at putting some words together. I’m glad that spoke to you.

  5. Welcome back…its been my experience that if our lives become disconnected … once we return to the trees…our paths will be revealed and futures renewed. Looking forward to your destinations.

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