Hiking – The World is My Church

Day 8 – “H” Hiking

At the top of Sullivan Falls.

I grew up camping, hiking, and playing in the great outdoors. During my childhood, my parents limited TV and computer time and refused to get my sister and I any type of gaming device. Looking back, this resulted in the best possible outcome: a complete respect and reverence for nature and all the rewards it can bring.

I recently wrote a short autobiography as part of a project I’m currently working on to use as marketing material for our clients. A huge portion of this was dedicated to my childhood spent camping, of our many adventures that took place outside, and hiking and backpacking as an adult.

Clearly, being surrounded by nature is an important part of my life.

My husband and I had been on a number of shorter backpacking trips in the past, but we really started getting into some hardcore packing when we started dating. Man, were the first few trips a challenge! There is so much I had to learn about long-term and long-distance backpacking. First, this is what is called “over packing”:

My beast of a pack…

Believe it or not, a few things came off and out of this pack prior to leaving as I was physically unable to heave this beast onto my back. Learning what to bring, what to leave behind, and what products were the most beneficial in terms of weight and usability were lessons that my husband and I have both learned along the way. We now differentiate “luxury camping” from “packing.” Luxury camping is when you have a short hike or drive to the destination and are able to bring in an ample amount of luxury items such as a blow up mattress, floating devices, and of course an array of alcoholic beverages. Packing is when you are completely self-sufficient and rely on the meager necessities you haul in on your back. As fun as luxury camping is, it is during these packing trips when I am completely disconnected from the outside world that I truly feel relaxed and at peace.

A weekend packing trip into Cedar Flats in the Cascade Range.
A weekend packing trip into Cedar Flats in the Cascade Range.

Through trial and error, and over subsequent years and summers, our backing trips became more and more enjoyable as we mastered the basics and started to learn the tricks of the trade. We have explored areas all over the Pacific Northwest and Canada, the Cascade Mountain Range being a favorite of ours because of it’s serene beauty and proximity to our home. One of our favorite places to go every year is an “off the beaten path” trail that winds around the base of the Three Sisters in Central Oregon. This was my first longer trek at higher altitudes. I learned quite a lot on this trip including how to mentally prepare myself for longer trips, how to manage altitude sickness, and other things along the way including the intense need for moleskin.

Hiking up the final ridge to the secluded lake near the base of South Sister.

In a true testament to our love of the outdoors, we went so far as to go backpacking for the first part of our honeymoon. Though not the most romantic way to kick off such a trip, it was memorable nonetheless. When we got into Canada, I experienced the most stunning mountains I had ever seen in my life. The hike up to the top of Idaho peak was fairly moderate with a steep climb the last quarter mile or so to the ranger’s station where we enjoyed breathtaking 360 degree views of the Slocan and Kootenay Rocky Mountain Ranges. Hands down one of the best day hikes I have ever been on.

Stunning views of the Kootenay Rockies from Idaho Peak in British Columbia.

I look forward to a summer filled with spur-of-the-moment weekend packing trips and longer week trips to get away and just be. I find that the older I get, the more I appreciate the solitude that backpacking brings me. There is absolutely nothing I love more for a vacation than escaping to some secluded lake, swimming out to the middle and just floating, treading and taking it all in; being a true part of nature.

The meditative aspects of hiking are one of the primary reasons I do it. Being out in nature, being completely alone and provided the opportunity to sit and think; to reflect upon myself, my goals, my needs, my writing, is the most spiritual experience. I never feel closer to God than when I’m immersed in a lake of snow melt, when I’m perched on a rock overlooking a sparkling expanse of water, soaking in the glorious sun. This feeling of being connected to the earth, of being dependent on mother nature, of being a part of something greater is why I hike.

Nature, and all of it’s elements and moods, truly feeds my soul.

On of my favorite hidden lakes tucked in the Cascade Range. A view from our campsite!
On of my favorite hidden lakes tucked in the Cascade Range. A view from our campsite!

15 thoughts on “Hiking – The World is My Church

  1. Beautiful! As I mentioned on Sarah’s blog, I’ve been wanting to get into hiking/backpacking, but I’ve been overwhelmed by how to get started. Maybe after the challenge is over you could write a “how to start backpacking” post? I’d love to get some advice. 🙂

    1. For sure!! I’d be more than happy to share the “trial and errors” that I briefly touched on in this post! With a “how to” from both of us I’m sure you’ll have some great tips to get started! We should totally do some day hikes together or if you’re feeling really adventurous, we’d love to have you and your guys along for a weekend trip sometime! 🙂

    1. Thank you!!! First of all, it is great hearing that my participation in the challenge is reaching people and they are enjoying my work!

      I suppose I started hiking with my family as a kid. We live in Oregon, so there are countless opportunities to explore the great outdoors; the coast, the mountains, the desert, so many options! Many of my favorite memories were of day hikes that we would take, exploring areas in the coastal mountain range or the Cascades. We went camping as well and usually factored in some afternoon hike during these trips. As an adult, my husband and I got into serious backpacking through some mutual friends of ours and after making the investment of purchasing the basic equipment, we started out on some longer packing trips and haven’t looked back since!

      If you’re new to hiking, the first thing I would recommend would be to research what opportunities there are in your area. Some of my favorite sites to go to when we are traveling and want to try something new are everytrail.com and alltrails.com. Both sites have some great recommendations for hikes depending on the area you input, and they have phone apps so they’re great on the go!

      I definitely recommend starting with day hikes. Then build up to shorter overnight trips, then weekend, and then week-long backpacking trips. My sister attempted her first backpacking trip as a month-long hike of the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail. It didn’t go very well… 🙂

      Baby steps. Work your way up to the longer and more challenging trips. While they are completely rewarding, I overdid it the first time and it can be very easy to give up on backpacking in general if you overwhelm yourself the first time! I’ve been approached by a few people wanting to know more about hiking and backpacking and how to get going. I’m planning on a short series of “Backpacking How To” posts in the near future. I would love for you to follow them and ask questions along the way; I always learn from conversations I have with fellow hikers as well! Sharing the info I’ve gained from hiking and backpacking is so rewarding! 🙂

      Happy hiking!!

    1. We definitely should! There are some great places outside Portland that we’ve been wanting to check out. I’m thinking of doing a short series of hiking/backpacking posts. Looking forward to writing those! So many pics and stories to share!

  2. What a great way to describe the spiritual experience. I don’t have anything against steeples, stained glass and giant crucifixes. But they’ve rarely given me that feeling of awe and connectedness that you’re sharing in your post, in the expanse of nature and the universe. Very cool.

    1. Exactly. There is a time and place for church, don’t get me wrong. But that contentedness you’re referring to is the spiritual experience I most love and search for, and get that in nature. 🙂

  3. Lovely pictures and writing. Florid description of trip. I also visited Snowbird,Utah recently. ThoughI didn’t do mountain sports because I was there to attend a conference.

    P.s – Followed you on twitter. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words and the follow!! I just followed you on Twitter as well! 🙂

      I find nature to be one of the best sources of inspiration for my writing! Nature and people watching!!

      Looking forward to reading more of your work! 🙂

  4. First off, thank you for following my blog and especially for leading me to your amazing blog. 🙂
    The title of your post reminded me of a recent hike I did in the Grand Canyon whereby the guide told us that the Grand Canyon was his church. I get it. Just as I get that hiking for you is meditative. As one person commented: your photos are great!

  5. Read a few of your posts today, including this one. Your overstuffed backpack brought back memories. My daughters and two of their friends and I went on our first Appalachian Trail hike a few years back and my pack was 40 lbs! We went for 5 days (the pack got lighter fast) and I would agree with everything you said about “packing”. I loved it. I’m interested in your Cascades hikes since I visit a daughter in Seattle frequently. Have you hiked with your baby?

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