Another Turn Around the Sun

30de398ee2f123cba7afcb8d339d56adAs the year ends and a new one begins, take the time to use the change for renewal and reflection. Also, take a moment to breath and look inside, take any residual pieces of yourself that are hindering you and let them go. A new year is not a time to make plans and goals you’ll never keep, don’t set yourself up for failure and disappointment. Let’s instead choose to make maybe a handful of small changes, letting go perhaps of something that you have held onto a little too tightly for the last year. Let me walk you through what I see in my mind for all of us on this wonderful day.

Standing up from our comfortable huddled positions, we stand the dust of the previous year falling around us. Pabst in hand we peer around looking for the crystal chandelier, instead we see nothing just dark expanse. Out of the dark comes a small flicker of an image, but the light flickering is a flame inside of your belly. Fear sets in, what is that?! We exclaim. The flickering light is warm and slowly it grows and suddenly you feel safe and you feel almost as if the flame is consuming something you didn’t know was there some emotional baggage shoved under the bed after the long trip. At first at the thought of letting go of that emotional baggage, we cringe, what would we do without that? At this point that baggage has become a part of your formed personality, to lose it would be to have to reform yourself again. This could come in the form of baggage so to speak or it could just be residual hate/love/awkward feelings that you have harbored, long unable to release for unspeakable reasons. In this moment you can choose to let that flame expand and take the things that you no longer require, that do not benefit you and your experience, if you would only let them go. In this moment, we let them be taken, and the flame grows except its not a flame at all it’s a warm soothing light that at the release of your baggage glows more brightly for just a moment then dims until it goes out completely. At the lose of the light you again stand in a dark room, but then only just then do you realize that there was a door in reach this whole time, so you open it now and walk out of this dark room you had put yourself in and walk out into the bright new undiscovered territory. Its beautiful and new on the other side and you would have known earlier if only you could have had the power to get yourself out of a situation you knew to be dark and diminishing to your inner self.

Essentially what I want you to gather from me today is hopefully some courage today or in the future to take the dusty things we keep in the shelves of our minds and hearts that clutter and confuse, and let them go. Dust them off look at them and gently release them, shed tears if you need to and if it takes more than one attempt that is okay just do it eventually.

This year, I will attempt this myself, to let go of that thing I have dragged with me most of my adult live, that person that I have held onto who I really formed most of my being around. Who will I be without that? That terrifies me. We cannot hold onto that which hold us back from our paths, happiness or progress, well at least I cannot anyway, I can’t speak for you and should not even try.

So in this new year please get out there, explore and grow in whatever way you need to. So much love and light is being sent to you, whoever you are way out in the nothingness of space.

-Leah

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

 

The Things We Don’t Speak Of

Man posts newspaper ad seeking leads in killing of wife, daughter over 9 years ago

Just as life was definite, so is death. This has been on my mind for the last year or so, the impending darkness that beckons us from our first breath. It terrifies me some nights, that my thoughts and I one day would fade from this world. It’s something I cannot fathom and I cannot fathom it for my loved ones either. I think that death and the fragility of our lives should be talked about open, not kept in a scary closet where we store the things that we’ll never speak of.

Often when I go out into the wilderness by myself , at times I feel apprehensive as most people would. What exactly do I feel apprehensive about? Strangers, unreasonable predator fear and just the unknowing of what is out there. I remember my first trip out on a long hike by myself in the cascades I got to the trail-head put my heavy backpack on immediately wanted to go home, I didn’t, but every noise for the first miles scared the life out of me. I ran across this story about the daughter and mother shot in the head for no reason and something hit me, that trail the first one that scared me was this very trail that they lost their lives on, Pinnacle Lake Trail. I remember reaching the top of this long climb and there was this beautiful vista, sitting at the edge of the trees looking out on the view were two crosses and I had always wondered who they were and what happened, now I know.

The back of my brain says that I should never go back out there to that area, to that mountain, but the other larger more dominant says this: We cannot let fear ruin life for us. We cannot hide under our beds hoping that death doesn’t find us or that evil people simply pass by us. Life is hard, and hopefully long, but for most that is not true. It is a blessing to live long enough to truly know what it means to live.

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
―Mark Twain 

You will die. Maybe peacefully, maybe in an hospital or maybe from a senseless act of violence, but it doesn’t change the outcome, fear won’t either. This I will say, knowing that one day your light will go out, knowing that maybe you won’t make it to see all of your goals meet fruition , what are you going to do with that? Why do we wait to tell people we care, or go to a place we have always wanted to go to or even to just take a day off of work. We have learned that we must put our head down and follow the paths of all those before us- Work, home, work , home……. until we get embalmed (so we cannot decay even once in the earth that bore us) and occupy a coffin (our family likely couldn’t even afford) unaged for all of time. Do what makes you happy, I am not talking about “living each day as if it were you last” because if that was true we wouldn’t need to pay our bills or worry about the consequences of dropping acid. What I am talking about is remembering that your happiness is that matters and you are in charge of it, every minute of every day regardless what you actually think. Make sure you are following where your soul beckons, I think you will find that it takes you strange and magical places.

Also, don’t let “evil” people scare you away from the things you love (I am also telling this to myself) because then fear has won, they have won.

HIKE NAKED. 

Get up out of your snuggie and get outside!

Much Love, Leah

“If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture—that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves.”
― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

One of the greatest travesties

One of the greatest travesties in our time (in my mind) is that we believe adventuring/camping is not simply being outside in the wild of this world but it is binge drinking/stereo booming. Camping=Partying. We losing the wild of this world everyday, but we are also losing the ability to be alone in what is left of it. We have to drink on our camping trips, have apps running on our phones the whole time so we can twitter how many steps we took! Or there’s the photo proof selfie that we were in fact at that spot.

I recently overheard a sober parent talking to a friend and what she said really made me think, she said

“If there was one thing that I could have NOT taught my son, it would be that you have to drink beer to have fun no matter where you are”

the reason this hit home is not because I am an avid drinker but because I feel that most of the people I know similar in age to me (and even not) are that way.There are people who need beer to complete an the adventure, or to drink along the way, many of these I have known in varying degrees. I get having a couple, I have been known to take a can of really good beer or cider to the top of the mountain but never have I taken more than one, this is not meant to say that I am better than anyone but to me I feel like if I really want to be in this moment and this place why would I be inebriated? How do we truly connect with others and nature when we are not being ourselves. I mean were not going to even mention the safety problems with drinking and adventuring as they are pretty obvious (you don’t want to fall of the mountain friends!)

An even larger growing addiction the vast majority of people who cannot be without their phones, they have to be constantly playing music, or games, or texting. I recently went on a camping trip with one of these people (had I known I would have kicked them outta the trip), I am one of the people that when I go out into the woods my phones is turned off and put away because if you have music constantly playing how do you hear the trees playing their quartet of wind instruments in their leaves and the very sound of nothing but chickadees hopping around the forest floor.

Anyway this whole rantish type of thing is meant to do one thing, challenge you! So here it is-

The next time you go outside for any amount of time (especially a hike) I challenge you to NOT bring your cell phone for anything (No fitness/GPS or anything else APP) Leave it in the car. Get a paper map though so not to get lost folks. 

And yes obviously I have brought my cell phone on a few of my trips obviously because I have pictures of them on here, and yes there are even a couple selfies, I feel ashamed. I do not everytime though many trips go undocumented!

Pinnacle and Bear Lake, WA

I went here a couple of weeks ago now but thought I should still mention it. This is a wondrous hike that starts off pretty mellow as it connects to bear lake very early on, this lake unfortunately from what I could see could not really be fished. The lake was very shallow and very warm at the time I was there and I saw now sign of fish as I went bush wacking around. So I continued on unknowingly I was going on a must more intense hike than I thought it was! However, I was really excited to see that the trail was not pristine as it keeps the yuppiest of the yuppys out. The trail gained some serious elevation on switchbacks that were heavily rooted and washed out, and a couple times there were false trails leading off to who knows where. Eventually you get to the top of the switchbacks and see some amazing views before seeing Hempel Lake on the right below you then moving on to some beautiful meadows, I definitely startled some bunnies chowing down on the sweet low grasses. Eventually you reach a large tarn, and at first I wasn’t sure if this was indeed the lake! I moved on and found that now it wasn’t, but that little tarn was pretty darn cute! (hyuk hyuk). In the tarn I saw some salamanders, many birds and various aquatic inverts. Oh by the way I should have mentioned that chacos are a must for this trip, waterproof boots if your so inclined or any shoes you don’t mind soaking with mud (I stepped into some mud, found it was a hole then had to pull my legs out- knee high caked with mud). Anyway the destination of Pinnacle lake was reached and the trip was totally nothing in beauty compared with that of the lake, beautiful and serene, clear and quiet, with views far outreaching. Also you get to see a pretty cool side of Mount Pilchuck and its spires. At this point it started raining and got pretty chilly, I ate my lunch and drank my beer, considered fishing but my fleece wasn’t warm enough to stick around long. When I was done I marched back down the mountain sad to leave early but happy to return again. Funny though when I reached the bottom the rain cleared up and the sun came out, so that was nice. This is a great hike, dont underestimate it though come prepared with more food and water then you need. Thankfully it was pretty clean other than the pet poop bags I saw every once in a while. If you bring a pet and you pick up its poop and put it in the bag TAKE OUT THE BAG. I know you say “well ill leave it here and get it on my way out”, I say “put it in your bag now, its in a bag, itll be okay”

Tangent ahead

For you who may not know anything about me I am going to school and it seems the more I learn about environmental conservation the more I just feel overwhelmed by the problems and helpless to solve them, as if you see a person bleeding out and you cannot get to them to put pressure on the wounds but there are so many people standing RIGHT THERE who refuse to help or just don’t see the person. That is how I feel almost everyday looking at humans and our impact. The only reason I mention this is when I say “Get off the couch and get out there” or something to that effect, I dont just mean get physical activity I mean learn about nature, appreciate it so when it comes to making decisions about its fate you are educated. Thanks for reading.

Get up and get educated!

-Leah

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.” -Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

A Little More Volunteering

 It is very easy to become connected to your environment, with one click of the mouse you can find yourself at your county’s page for volunteer opportunities or maybe your states Department of Game and Fish. There are amazing things to be discovered out there, like for me, Mount Saint Helens. I signed up to do some scotch broom removal from an elk habitat area below Mount Saint Helens (MSH) , not really knowing what to expect. Surprisingly I also had a friend decide that a weekend outside of manual labor sounded good to him too! So away we went, a 5 hour drive later we were in an area of WA that we had never seen with beautifully replanted (for future timber cuts unfortunately) firs and pines and large striking mountains. We stayed overnight then went to work the next day using pectoral muscles you never thought to exist while using lobbers for 8 hours then spraying the stumps with an herbicide. It was hard work but I don’t think I have ever had such a good lunch spot. Standing on the banks of the Toutle River it looked like pictures I had seen of Denali. Wonderous would be the word I would use actually, it made me feel so small and complete to be out there in the rebirth of this new earth. I would have never even though to go here if it had not been for this opportunity and if you would so desire this event is held by Washington Dept of Fish and Wildlife about three times a year and a very funny and amazing couple Rodger and Mona host a camp for the folks wishing to stay overnight, be prepared Rodger brings Fireball.

http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/

I guess my overall point is that we often dont know what is out there to protect. We hear about issues on the news or via word of mouth (that may or may not be true) so how do we really know the importance of conservation/management without seeing the lands with out own eyes. So we should all get out there, help each other out to whatever capacity you can and it will help everyone. Get up, sign up, Get out there!

Bye for now – Leah

“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” -Aldo Leopold

The Importance of Being Outside

When we think of ADVENTURE and EXPLORING, we have to remember that not only is this a trip far away from your home but in your own back yard maybe by yourself seeking solitude or maybe with friends who seek what you seek, to be more connected to something to anything. I often seek grand goals and forget the ones that are so close, not only are they really awesome but also they don’t cost me petrol/money/emissions to get there, they are most certainly more conservative and what I mean by that is CONSERVING. I often rant to my friends and family that environmental conservation is not about wearing Birkenstocks (but wait those are totally in now…) or driving a bio-fuel vehicle or even about wearing patchouli (again that is in now too…) what I mean is using/buying/unwrapping/driving/consuming/throwing away LESS. Going “green” means actually just spending less money, not putting fuel in the machine of CONSUME-rism. I am sorry I really went off on a tangent there, so lets return to the original thought, go explore YOUR backyard. You may not have the same backyard as me or as the person next to you but there is always something to see, someone to connect to in some meaningful way. Talk to someone you may have never met before, discover something new about your neighborhood, or maybe do my favorite thing and bring a bag and pick up trash its a small task but it is very meaningful, to your neighbors and to the animals that may have tried to eat that garbage and maybe died. So get your friends/family/dog/cat? unplug from your electronics (no headphones either!) leave them at home, and get the hell out there. I will quote someone who is NOT Edward Abbey now…. weird I know.

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history. No purpose or place. We have no Great War, No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars, but we won’t”

“This is your life, and its ending one minute at a time.”

-Chuck Palahniuk , Fight Club