This is the beginning of a novel I'm writing (not the final draft):
The hiking trail consisted of pairs of uneven stone steps. On both sides, tall coniferous trees extended tall into the sky, like an army of giants guarding the forest. From between their trunks an ominous mist watched quietly. In the air was the scent of winter, mixed with the smell of soil, dry leaves, moss. If you listened careful enough, you could hear the chirping of birds and insects—a tune so soft, so subtle, you sometimes thought you were humming to yourself.
Watching this scenery, I could see why An-Mei had chosen Alishan for her spiritual retreat. Something about this place made you feel protected, at ease. As though Mother Nature had laid you softly in her arms, and you no longer had to feel suffering or grief. The effect was soothing, almost magical.
But was it enough to heal An-Mei's pain?
It seems like the hooking part comes after the first paragraph. When the narrator starts talking about An-Mei and her spiritual wounds. They haven't met for a long time so this is a very important meeting for them.
How can I convey some of that in the first paragraph, and in a way that connects with the description smoothly? I've tried many options but none of them seem to work.
Or should I just leave it as it is?
I've always been a firm believer that the first sentences ought to grab the attention of the reader.
How about this?
As I made my way uphill, I understood why An-Mei had chosen this place to heal her wounds. I inhaled a deep breath and stopped for a moment to absorb the scenery. The hiking trail consisted of pairs of uneven stone steps...