Crowded Hikes: The Death of Solitude in the Outdoors. And Are They Beyond Leave No Trace?

It’s finally sunny in Portland again and that means everyone wants to hike in our nearby parks and forests.

Let me emphasize, everyone.

It’s like the city evacuates and piles into Willamette National Forest. My first few hikes of the season had me thinking about Leave No Trace, as I witnessed people who don’t know what’s up.

With the outdoors so accessible from Portland, combined with the drastic increase over the past decade of recreation in national parks and forests, thousands of people traipse into the woods seemingly without a clue about Leave No Trace. Continue reading

My Gut Says Logic is Overrated

I was recently given the opportunity to work on a farm for the summer, and I was stoked. I couldn’t wait to work outside in the beautiful Oregon sunshine, get my hands back in the earth. I was tired of working as a waitress, hating that I was spending so much time doing a job I didn’t like for the money. Sure, the farming job wouldn’t pay much, but at least I’d be doing something I was passionate about.

Later, I found myself on my laptop, staring at my student debt. Suddenly the idea of working on a farm for little pay seemed absurd. What I should do is pick up more hours at the restaurant or get a second job. I didn’t have time for fun, not yet. I had school debt, car payments, rent to pay. Focusing on making money seemed the more logical thing to do. Continue reading

Post Election: Finding Clarity in Books

I’m reading Freedom by Jonathon Franzen, and from the perspective of forty- year-old Patty, he wrote:

“There’s a hazardous sadness to the first sounds of someone else’s work in the morning, it’s as if stillness experiences pain in being broken. The first minute of the workday reminds you of all the other minutes that a day consists of, and it’s never a good thing to think of minutes as individuals. Only after other minutes have joined the naked, lonely first minute, does the day become more safely integrated in its dayness.”

Reading can be that way. The first page feels daunting as you’re afraid you’ll lose focus and stop. But once other pages have joined the first page, you feel more comfortable in the rhythm of reading. Pages cease to be individuals and the story forms in your mind in a continues string. It feels complete and relaxing as it guides you through the author’s world. That’s a satisfaction I can only get from reading books. Social media, the other place where I “read,” makes me feel lost in a thick forest, blinded by sticks poking me in the eye and scratching my skin. Continue reading

From Stumbling to Stepping: Making Our Way in Portland

Before we knew our way around Portland, before the rain stuttered and summer passed and the rain returned in tsunamic downpours; before we had jobs and a mattress and a toilet of our own, Taylor and I sat on a bench in the Vancouver, Washington public library, a phone pressed to my ear as a reluctant voice told me we didn’t get the jobs we’d driven across the country for.

Three thousand miles from home in the middle of January, neither of us knew what to do. We didn’t want to drive back and we didn’t know where to go. We’d been living in a car. I was tired of driving and tired of fighting my tiredness. At that moment I wanted nothing more than to forget the whole trip happened, curl up in my warm, childhood bed and abandon adulthood.
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Camp Lake to Middle Sister

If there’s one thing I’ve learned how to do in the past seven years it’s how to pack for a backpacking trip. I’m always packing that extra layer, thinking of everything, because I hate wishing I had something on the trail or forgetting something important. And yet that’s exactly what happened when I arrived at the Pole Creek trail head in Sisters, Oregon last weekend. I was all packed and ready to go, with the exception of one crucial item—boots. My boots were no where to be found. I swore I had them in my hand when I left, how could I forget something like boots? But it didn’t matter how much I swore, how much I repeated, “I put them right there!” They were not right there. They were no where. They were at home, three hours away, in our one room apartment. Luckily I had my Chacos. If I were to hike in anything else, it would be my Chacos.

The first eight miles of trail was a mix of flat and gentle ascent, consisting of soft dirt and sand. I was thankful for that. Beautiful surroundings of the North, Middle, and South Sister volcanoes. The trail came to an end at Camp Lake, where we’d spend a night. I wanted to sleep right next to the lake so we could watch the sun set and look up at the stars. Once our tent was up, we left everything but a water bottle and headed for the summit of Middle Sister.

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