The other day my wife, daughter and I went for a little day outing to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. It was a nice mild day of about seventy degrees, with a mostly clear blue sky. To get my girls out of the house to basically go look at my next haunt is usually a bit of a hard sell as they are both a fan of glamping in a nearby hotel of their choosing. In spite of this, I maintain that exposure is the best therapy for any that ails. In my current line of work, the stressors have been higher than usual and I required some time away from the city!
There is one regret that I have had in life thus far, and it has taken me over 35 years to find one thing that I have been without for far too long: Adventure. About twenty years ago now, I took a week long trip down the Washington Coast that to this day was one of my life’s defining moments. I had no idea what I was doing. Many of us were all novice hikers and campers. It was quite a shock to the system to say the least. We trekked south for 5 days. Conversation was often spared for camp. It was perfect! I am by no means a person who tends to avoid any chance to sit and get to know someone. A lover of new things, places and people, this company of solitude was something I needed. Grueling as it was, satisfaction was delivered with each stride. The point? I was taken. Taken away from traffic. Taken away from school. Taken away from hockey practice. This (if even for a short time) relocation into these desolate coastal beaches with minds and cliffs to the left and the Pacific to my right was everything to us all in the moment. Forced to realize that we were only as fast as the slowest in the group made us something better. It made a team. It created a bond.
As we made the drive toward the forest, I reflected on this experience quite heavily. I was no stranger to these woods, but no expert by any means. I have not hiked or camped like that since grade ten. Not taken a kayak trip since that very same year. I realized after some of life’s recent challenges that all of the experience I had earned at any job was becoming very taxing, and was nothing but one little place in time that absorbed all of my time. Silly. We headed to the pass first; a little prayer to the snow gods and then across Interstate 90 to visit Alpental. Seeing these mountains without snow, abandoned lifts, empty lodges. I prayed hard!
About five months ago, I committed my life to regaining the feeling one finds when out in the wild, on a ski slope, in the cold. I yearn for those instinctive moments! With this commitment came goals far too lofty for my diminished outdoor skills. Having not excercised for some time these came as delusions of grandeur; something I am no stranger to. I had my sights set high! I dream now of Appalachian trails, the Pacific Crests… those types of goals. Maps all over the place, notes and journals… All things to organize my departures. Hiking around Alpental I made a discovery, a sight. Literally, a sign? Yes. It was the trailhead to Pacific Crest Trail section WA-J! I have read into this in many outdoor books, trail details from Mexico to Canada… I had nothing but dumbfounded delight. An epiphany!
If I was going to do this, I was going to do it NOW! A little more exploring led me to further planning, even further soul searching. The goal to do this is not only for me; it is for anyone like me who has trapped themselves into a corner in life. Experience in any job left me only one thing: experience in that job. When we venture into paths unknown, we truly learn. About sections of our world. About ourselves. My dedication is far greater than to me alone. I want to be a better person for helping others. I want to become a better me for my girls.
These moments of tranquility are all around us yet many of us fail to allow ourselves to live enough to discover them. It amazes me to realize how much I missed getting excited to see saplings growing from stumps, the sun through branches, and a sign… for now, planning. For tomorrow, reaching and grabbing my dreams and taking as many with me as I can! There is no way anyone could really explain that moment in time that grabs you and feels as though it may never let go! We wish it wouldn’t. We long for it. Feeling that moment made me realize the need for change. I had discovered a me that I had been missing as life was passing by. Stop! Stop right now if you can. Take a walk. Look around. Reclaim your life, take your time and make it look like art. Take an adventure! You will thank yourself for it!