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My favorite sunsets lack technicolor displays as light bounces off clouds. Rather, they consist of the sun quietly falling below the horizon, turning the sky into a perfect color gradient that you only notice if you pay attention.

Last weekend, we went to Opal Creek Wilderness for two days away from civilization. In preparation for our foray, I googled pictures of the location; the beauty of Opal Creek’s turquoise water made me excited to visit. As a native North Carolinian, mountains are less than 6,000 feet tall, and rivers run murky brown. Opal Creek had neither of these things. Instead, it possessed the hallmarks of grandeur I have been socialized to think of as beautiful. Those google pictures did not do it justice.

The hills rose far above our heads, a deep green carpet of trees. The water was perfectly clear, with a turquoise tint from the copper in the surrounding hills. The douglas firs and hemlocks climbed out of sight. As we hiked into Jawbone Flats, I tried to take it all in–pausing to look straight up and pausing to take pictures of the water.

In the evening, we went on a hike to a rock outcropping with a view of the sun setting behind the hills. We had no prescribed assignment as we sat in the setting sun’s silence. In fact, our only assignment was to sit there and think. My thoughts did not stretch towards profound. In fact, I mostly thought about how I wanted to go back to the cabin. I was surprised that I wasn’t thinking more big picture, given the vast beauty of the scene. In reflection, however, I am not as surprised: what I most enjoyed about our trip to Opal Creek were the moments spent laughing hysterically with friends. Simple, some might say, in comparison to the old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Much like my favorite sunsets, I found myself enjoying the simple beauty of laughing with friends more than grand wilderness. I think there is something to be said about beauty in simplicity as opposed to traditional definitions of beauty. Reflecting on my fond memories of phonelessness, I realize what I enjoyed most then, just as now, was the simplicity of the trip rather than the grandeur. As I return to the work week and my hyper-connected life, I will try to instill some simplicity into my days rather than magnificence.