In late June, 2020, I emerged from months of sheltering in place, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and ventured out into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, in SW Washington State. It was a beautiful, sunny, 80 degree day, with a light breeze. The forest service road to the trail head was mostly paved, but full of giant potholes and rough, slow-going sections. This was a part of this forest I had never been to, but had seen photos and had heard about it’s spectacular beauty.
The trail was gentle and meandering, as it followed a crystal clear river and was punctuated by magnificent waterfalls along the way. Salmon berry were beginning to ripen and I imagined that by the following week they would be prolific throughout the area. Although with the number of people hiking the trail, it was unlikely they would last long. There was a near constant stream of other hikers and backpackers; many families with children making their way towards camp-sights along the river’s edge. We spent much of the hike moving off the trail to give people space to pass, as we feel that it’s important to follow social distancing guidelines, even when in the outdoors. Most people seemed appreciative and many people even wore masks as they hiked. It was a reminder that even in the restorative beauty of this place, the reality of what was happening in the world today could not be ignored.
These are hard times for everyone. My own sense of self and the ways in which I interact with the world have been disrupted and changed. My work, my studies, and community have all been thrown into chaos. And there is also this constant undercurrent of uneasiness and disquiet, even when doing simple things like making dinner or going for a walk. It often feels like nothing makes sense anymore and that I am just going through the motions of life, despite them feeling inconsequential in this moment in time. But, nature is a good anchor. It reminds me that I am of this world and that I can find myself again in these places. Life makes more sense here.
This year has been pretty A-typical, weather wise, and June has been no exception. Normally this time of year it is still damp and cool and I have always said that summer starts on July 5th in the Pacific Northwest (as it almost always rains on the 4th). But, this year summer arrived sometime in April. We are now pushing 90-100 degree days with no end in sight, which in itself is so rare in these parts that both the locals and the native plants and animals are in a state of shock and disbelief. The grasses have already turned brown and the dark, wet, rainforest trees appear dry and brittle. The flowers and berries that normally bloom and fruit in mid-late summer are already here and are giving us all an uneasy feeling about what is to come.
It has been a while since I got out with my camera as I just finished up my first year as a classroom teacher and honestly have been too exhausted to think about photography. But, now that I have had some time to rest I am again ready to get out and explore this beautiful region that I call home! Here are a few photos from around my house to get started and there should be many more to come of areas across Oregon and Washington over the rest of the summer!
The last few days have been so beautiful and so relaxing, that I haven’t felt like writing or posting, or really doing much of anything! Doe Bay is lovely (although a tad too expensive) and tomorrow we will be heading to Obstruction Pass State Park for a bit more of a rustic and remote setting.
Spencer Spit State Park (Lopez Island) to West Beach Resort (Orcas Island):
Today we cycled a short 4 miles to the ferry dock at Lopez Island, ate a delicious burger and deep fried, sugar coated, dough bits, took the ferry to Orcas Island, and then biked the 10, hilly miles to West Beach Resort just outside of Eastsound. The day was hot, but beautiful and we are spending the evening relaxing on the waterfront deck with a cold beverage!
Deception Pass State Park to Spencer Spit State Park on Lopez Island:
Today was a beautiful, and while fairly short overall, exhausting day! We finally made it to the San Juan Islands and decided to start our time here on the “bicycle island”. Our campsite is amazing, our dinner at the “Love Dog Cafe” was amazing, the weather is amazing and everything around us is simply beautiful!