2015 Alumni Essay Contest Third Place Winner!

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The third-place winner of our 2015 Alumni Essay Contest is… Morgan Monz! Morgan was a student on Washington Mountaineering and Grand Teton, and was a leader this past summer on both the Montana Fly Fishing and Yellowstone Wilderness trips. Morgan wrote this essay after her trip as a student in 2007 and dug it up just for us.¬†Thanks, Morgan, for sharing your awesome essay with us!

Sunrise on Yellowstone Lake
Sunrise on Yellowstone Lake

Awake at last

There are things in life that we take for granted. We are all guilty of it. Sometimes we become so absorbed in something that we forget how to live in the moment, how to appreciate the simple things and people that shape our lives. It is easy to lose sight of what really matters, but every now and then, these seemingly simple moments in time can be the ones that ground us.

5:00 am: drifting out into the vastness of Yellowstone Lake I could feel the crusty remnants of sleep around my eyes. My hands were frozen to the ice painted paddle, and the crisp air bit my cheeks. I squinted intently trying to bring the shadows embedded in the morning haze into focus, but I could barely make out the blurred silhouettes of the neighboring kayaks. No one was awake enough to talk, but the occasional paddle shattered the glassy water as it dipped into the surface, reminding me that I was not alone.

The early hours made it nearly impossible for my brain tell my aching muscles and blistered hands to propel the kayak forwards, so I let my head fall back on my shoulders and I drifted. As the kayak rocked gently in the water, I watched stars fade while the beginnings of dawn washed over like a blanket tucking them away. I could hear branches breaking on a nearby shore hinting that life was waiting close by. Shivers crept up my spine as the sound of a howling wolf traveled past me in the wind, beckoning for morning light.

The birds knew it first, and they began to chirp softly, warming up their voices for what was about to come, so I lifted my head back into position to face the rising sun. It began to peek out from behind a tall mountain in the distance. Shy at first, the initial rays danced on my icy cheeks, and my body began to tingle as warmth flooded in. Stronger, it rose lighting a fire in the sky and chasing off the darkness with brilliant colors. I could feel my eyes widen in awe. The kayaks were glistening as the frost melted down the sides racing to join the lake, and trees along the shore stood taller, basking as they were highlighted by the new day. The lake was clear and flat, broken only by the occasional radial waves of fish coming up to feed. And I sat there in my kayak, unable to move, unable to think, and completely absorbed by the most natural phenomenon: the awakening of the world how it was meant to be.