The Fine Print: Set in Stones

On finding freedom on the Buffalo

PAUL WASN’T looking for it, but he needed it. Less than a week before, he’d lost his job—and with it, a sense of stability, a sense of where his life was heading, and, more broadly, a sense of himself. So when a good friend who’d faced the same uncertainty a few months before suggested a trip to the Buffalo, Paul leapt at the chance. The two men hit the road early one October morning, hitting a slew of bucket-list landmarks before stopping by Steel Creek Campground—and that’s where they saw it. Glittering beneath the surface of the water was this word: “FREEDOM.” It was odd, that moment. It was the word he’d been trying to find, the word that he’d been unable to come up with. And here it was. Of course it’s worth stressing that stacking stones raise questions of leave-no-trace (more on that here), but for a man who’d just lost so much, it didn’t matter so much. In that moment, Paul says, he felt his life changing. He realized he had freedom now—freedom to do what he loved, to spend time with his family, to pursue long-put-off dreams. Like so many others, he’d found freedom on the Buffalo.