Thirty-five degrees Fahrenheit is my favorite temperature to go hiking. It’s brisk, it’s invigorating, and your heart rate goes up just enough to make you nice and warm under all your layers. Over the weekend, I went for a hike at one of my favorite local spots near Annapolis, MD with my best hiking buddies, my dogs Natty Beau and Harvey. Broad Creek Park Nature Trail winds its way up and down ridges, where the three of us huffed and puffed up and down these steep coastal plain hills.

I felt inspired to get outside with my dogs after the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay hosted our first Wild and Scenic Film Festival on January 24th. This was a night we shared across four locations with over 700+ people enjoying the fellowship and inspiration by the same 13 short films. There were a few funny ones, a few that really made me pause and think, a couple that made my heart sing, but all of them inspired me at some level.

My favorite was the “(unofficial) HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL PARKS” – a quick 4 minute witty, impactful, and powerful message about the importance of these publicly owned spaces throughout our Country’s history.

The 21-minute film on “Biomimcry” was the most fascinating to me – I learned how we can take a few notes from the natural world on how to solve some of our planet’s most pressing problems, like reducing carbon emissions and saving water.

But the one that inspired me to lace up my hiking boots this weekend was “Ace and the Desert Dawg,” an inspired 4-minute film about Ace and his dog, Genghis Khan, who go on a 60-day hike from their front door for the Ace’s 60th birthday in the beautiful red canyons of Utah. It brought a smile to my face and inspired me to seize the day and plan a hiking adventure with my own  furry-companions.

The Film Festival was nothing short of inspiring and powerful, and left me feeling high from joy and lightness. The morning after, as I was getting ready to head off to start my day, I received a text from a friend who was also at the Alliance’s Film Festival in Annapolis, telling me how much fun she had being inspired by the amazing films. She also told me, “We need that film fest every January!” I couldn’t agree more. A night spent with inspiration all around us, both in the form of the fellow 700+ viewers and the 13 incredible and moving films – we could all use more fellowship and positivity in our lives.

As I write this, Natty and Harvey are zonked out at my feet, enjoying a post-hike nap in the late-day January sunlight coming through our back windows. I too feel the same exhaustion – but it’s a good exhaustion, the kind where you feel refreshed and reset. I think about a moment from my hike where I stood motionless in Mountain Pose, facing the river, and listening to the quiet all around me. It was soul-filling and the crisp winter air made me feel alive and inspired –much like the sentiments that filled me after the credits started to roll at the Film Festival.

If you attended one of our Wild and Scenic Film Festival viewings, I hope you walked away feeling inspired too. I hope you made an intention to get outside and enjoy the natural world in whatever way works for you. May the warmth of the inspiration carry us all high into spring.