I think it is safe to say the past year has thrown us all a curveball. It’s hard to believe that a year ago, we were all huddled inside, trying to figure out when things would go back to “normal” again. Seasons of struggle and discomfort often have a way of discouraging us and causing us to lose sight of the things that keep us going. As an outdoor enthusiast, it was very difficult for me to sit still for a few months as we all waited for the shutdown to blow over. As 2020 drew to a close, like so many others I looked forward to a new year where we can all leave 2020 behind, and begin to make our way out of what was a rough year for so many.
We all have an environment that we go to for rest. For some of us, it’s reading, exercising, playing music, and for some, it’s getting outside and being active. Going into the new year, I made a goal to focus on recovering with a healthy mindset. Throughout last year, I began to make myself feel “busy” for the sake of feeling like I was being productive. As someone who is self-employed, I found myself getting caught up in the anxiety of making ends meet, and simply trying to make it to the next month. Hindsight has its way of teaching us more than we asked for, and the end of 2020 made me realize the productivity we can find in resting. Those two words always seem to contradict each other, however, the more I look back, the more I can see that life was teaching me a valuable lesson in slowing down to speed up.
There’s something special about the mountains. They have always acted as a sort of refuge for me, regardless of circumstances. Some friends and I decided to travel to the backwoods of Washington. This state has always been one of my favorite states in the country. It offers almost every type of terrain you can think of from lush rainforest, snow top mountains, and a beautiful coastline with rocks the size of skyscrapers storming toward the sky. Myself, Taylor, and Geoffrey hopped in the van, and headed towards some trails along the way! On the first day, we traded rainy Seattle for Olympic National park. I love showing people places for the first time. I had been to Mt. Storm King before, but this time was special because I was able to share this beautiful place with Taylor and Geoffrey, who have never visited this part of the country. We arrived at the trail, packed some gear into the Aether Plus 70, and began to make our way up the mountain. The hike was rough, with a 2,600ft elevation gain which spanned 2 miles. The climb gave way to a strong vertical trail that lasted the entire hike, however, we reached the top just in time to watch an incredible sunset!
The next day, we drove through the peninsula and headed toward the coastline. As we were driving through the pines with the windows down, a cool breeze flowed through the van as we made our way to Rialto beach. We arrived in time to hike to a perfect spot pitch up a tent and relax as we headed into the evening. The peaceful sound of the waves always has a way of putting me at ease. If there is one thing that this week on the road has taught me, it is the importance of slowing down, even when things around us seem crazy and busy. That evening, we spent time talking about everything from music, movie quotes, goals, and where we see ourselves in the next year. The next day, we ventured down the coast and hiked to Fall Creek Falls. This place has been on my list of places to visit for a while, but the seasons seem to never align every time I found myself in Washington. This waterfall resembled the perfect little oasis in the middle of the forest with a huge waterfall that funneled into a perfect little pool of water at its base. During the week, we found ourselves hiking to campsites that were a little further than we expected, and having the support of the Aether Plus 70 made the long hikes so much easier. As we reached the end of the trail near the base of the waterfall, we took in the scenery as the sun made its way in between the pines. As we drove back to Seattle, we spent time reminiscing on some of our favorite moments during our trip.
Between the Beaches and waterfalls, Taylor and Geoffrey each had their favorite locations. For me, I always enjoyed the hikes. The amount of reflection and time to think always helps clear my head, and ironically takes me to a place of rest even in the middle of the ascent to the top of a mountain. Every time I finish a road trip, or a hike, I’m reminded of the importance of being in our element. This means being in a place where we can rest and enjoy ourselves allows us to re-energize and refuel our minds to give the important things in life the attention it deserves. As we wander through this life and into the next season after the lockdown, my hope is that we never lose sight of reinvesting in ourselves, so we can then give and focus on the things that mean the most to us.