The green moss on the trees was soft to the touch, whispering stories of explorers before us, and the hue of the rivers and lake used of the colors on the blue/green spectrum. The cool summer air hugged our faces as we stepped out into our first lookout in the park, and Audrey and I cried out in excitement. The ‘mountain giddies’ is what we called it; the sensation of being in a place so wonderful that you need someone to pinch you from believing you’re in a dream.
The trailblazers we met on our day trips or backpacking expeditions told us stories of their travels and experiences. While hiking Mt Dickerman on Mountain Loop Highway, we passed a group of middle aged ladies on their way to the meadow that sits three-fourths of the way up for some camping. They chatted with us, and told us to enjoy our young legs. I couldn’t help but be inspired by their essence and interest in the woods after all so many years. I’v heard so many people tell me that the outdoor enthusiasm is just a phase, but I personally believe it is a lifestyle. Just like some people live for nightlife, music, the beach, and many other things, I live for the woods and forest that harbor the hidden secrets of those before me. My friends and I joked that in 40 years we want to be just like the ladies we met—still enjoying each other’s company, good conversation, and the wild mountain air.
Each hike pushed us to new physical limits, and with a steady breath I marveled at my own endurance. While exercising regularly at a gym can be extremely gratifying, I think being out in the wilderness and immersing yourself in the outside world is so important to not only your mental well-being, but physical well-being too. The earned tan shows the lines of socks, shorts and t-shirts is genuine, and the sore feet and broken in boots tell the story of one’s journey through the woods.
Thinking about it now, I can’t remember the exact moment I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t an “ah-ha moment,” and time didn’t stop putting me in a revelation. If I had to guess, I would say it was during out drive from the North Cascades back to Seattle. I watched the rain dance down the window and I stared at the scenery passing by, understanding what it meant to be at home in a place that is not even your home.
I think if you haven’t been there, you wouldn’t believe me. You wouldn’t believe that the whole region is right out of your favorite childhood fairytale. At Mount Rainier we walked past glacier fresh streams with wildflowers in flourish at their banks in awe that such place existed. We stopped at a lookout to rest and refuel while our breath danced with the wind. Oh the freedom! Oh the mountain air!
Striding in the cold water of the Oneota River Gorge while marveling at the moss covered ravine, I found it hard to believe that there are places more marvelous than the Pacific Northwest. The history, culture, and authenticity of the region is unique to the people who live there and is the envy of those who visit.
I don’t know when I’ll be back to the Pacific Northwest. I don’t know if it will be this year, next year, or 50 years from now, but I do know that one day I’ll be back for good!