This summer, I saw baby coyotes trot across a burnt orange dusty path. I stumbled into a mini igloo and swiped my hands against an icy freshwater ceiling. I saw shapes of bears and hearts in canyons designed by water alone. And even sat on the edge of a cliff shouting in joy while raising my hands to catch the wind. This summer, I stomped through mud, dirt, rock, and snow. I hiked 5,000 feet above the ground just to meet a mountain at eye level. I ran out of breathe with seven friends, paused in exhaustion, confronted defeat, then bounced back seven times stronger. This summer, I bathed my feet at the top of rushing waterfalls then tiptoed into a shimmering, aqua-green lake that spread calmly at the bottom. This summer, I made the great outdoors my playground, and next summer you should too.
Summer is a particularly special season for us all. It may not be laced in holiday traditions that bring us together or even filled with withered plants coming back to bloom, but summer is about finding every excuse to spend time outside. We schedule barbecues, plan pool parties, gather on Sunday for rooftop brunch with bottomless mimosas, and purchase as many music festival tickets as we can afford. At the same time, gym goers are using this season to break the monotony of working out indoors. We are eagerly biking, scuba diving, rock climbing, and signing up for marathons before we have to turn ourselves back in to weight racks and saunas. We get the rare opportunity to explore and conquer the wonders of the world, while also challenging our bodies in a way that cannot be simulated in a fitness center. No longer are we walking an incline on a treadmill for 20 minutes, but instead treading alongside a steep 5 mile stream just to get a full city view from the mountain tops. The summer is an opportunity to leave the comforts of your home and rediscover the best of what this planet has to offer.
Since I moved to Seattle, summer has become a signal of hiking season for me. I typically reserve at least one weekend each month to hike a new trail in the Pacific Northwest in replacement of my workout routine. I love hiking because I can challenge my full body in a real world setting versus isolated movements or exercises in the gym. I tend to choose a 5-10 mile hike, which can be strenuous and equates to about 2-4 hours of walking. When hiking, the trails are often uneven and unexpected with each turn, allowing for a varying level of difficulty throughout the journey. One second, I can be walking on flat, soft dirt, and the next, I will be using both my hands and feet to scale up rocks towards a mountain peak. Finally, add in the natural elements like wind or a hot sunny day, and you have a complete challenge of both physical and mental endurance that cannot be replicated with machines.
Though hiking provides a great workout option, I love it for so much more. I love hiking because it is enchanting. Hiking is being surrounded by trees as tall as your work office building. It's experiencing your first time hearing and seeing a woodpecker looking for its next meal. It's dipping your hand in a stream halfway through the path and splashing the freshwater on your face to cool down. Hiking is about finally arriving at the very top of a mountain and seeing all of the land that you conquered within just a couple of hours. It's a moment to disconnect from your day to day and reflect on how gorgeous this world is untouched. Hiking is discovering the tucked away beauties that Mother Nature created without our help.
It's that perfect combination of a physical challenge with breathe taking views that creates a feeling of accomplishment that is unmatched. With hiking, you are rewarded with memories that I think everyone should experience and would enjoy. If you are someone who has not been hiking before, I challenge you to pick out and plan just three hikes to do next summer and see if it's an activity you fall in love with just as much as I have. If you need a little bit more convincing, below I captured each beautiful place I hiked this summer and hope that you are not only stunned by these views, but inspired to get active and trek the wonders of this country for Summer 2018.
Special thank you to my wonderful friends who explored these trails along my side and helped me capture each moment. Love you James, Jeff, Denise, Chelsea, John, June, Catherine, Tina, Cornetta, Jasmine, Makeda, Channing, Angelina, Ciara, Mia, and Kia.
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- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Oyster Dome, Washington
- Antelope Canyon, Arizona
- Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
- Grand Canyon, Arizona
- Diablo Lake, Washington
- Lewis River Falls, Washington
- Colchuck Lake, Washington
- Chain Lakes Loop, Washington