I never thought I would fall in love with the mountains.
When I was a kid, my family would make a trip about once a year. The first such trip was to Digha - a sea-beach. The trip was short - 2 days - but I was enraptured by the sea. There was something about the sea that immediately got me hooked. Moreover I was the only kid in the group - and I could get away from the elders and feel free when I was in the sea.
But we used to go to hills very often. I did not enjoy going to hills. Oh yes - it was beautiful and all that. But we would end up sitting in the car all day traveling - stay at a place with a beautiful view for a night - and then travel again next day to another beautiful sight. There were brief occasions when I could actually wander around in the mountains - never too far from the watchful eyes of accompanying parent or relative - but still I enjoyed those brief moments. The accompanying elder would take the well trodded trail while I would head into little more adventurous terrain. Alas! These moments were too short and far apart - and all in all, I did not enjoy the mountains as much as I enjoyed the sea.
And then three years ago, I came to Virginia. More precisely - Blacksburg, Virginia. Bang in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Mountains everywhere. East - West - North - South - mountains on all sides. But for most of my first one and a half years here, these mountains remained out of reach - my travels were limited to the campus, grocery store etc. Trips out of Blacksburg were mostly taken by Interstate 81. And when on these Interstates, I never got the true feel of the mountains. These roads do not wind around mountains like true mountain roads do - they just bulldoze through them.
But these mountains kept calling out to me. I remember that while taking breaks from work, I used to enjoy a particularly good view of the mountains from one end of my office building in Torgersen Hall. Over the year, I saw the hills changing color - the Greens of Summer and Spring, to the Reds and Oranges of Autumns, to the Greys of Winter - I kept on staring at the wonderful mountains. Alas - from afar!
And then things started changing. I bought a bike. Started going out into the countryside. I started exploring trails. Soon after, I got a car. Now the world opened up rapidly. Random drives led me to the most wonderful of places. One particularly memorable day was when I spotted a trailhead while driving - and ended up exploring that trail by foot for around two hours.
I realized I was hooked. I now had full access to the mountains. What I had experienced as a child was not the proper way to enjoy the beauty of the mountains. To enjoy mountains one does not (I believe) need to go to a famous point and see a beautiful sight. Rather one should get lost in the vast expanses of the mountains - and then he will begin to truly feel their true beauty.