“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” —John Muir
On a rare sunny Saturday in February, my little family sloughed off its cozy winter sedentariness and donned trail shoes and day packs for a hike in the forest.
As we started down the trail we passed Moss Lake, still as glass, its banks choked with cattails. We frolicked in sun-dappled clearings aglow with the bright green moss that covered the ground, rocks, and trees. We spotted gummy yellow fungi, furry coyote scat, well-worn game paths, and stretchy, tinsel-like tree moss. Everywhere we looked we discovered something wonderful or strange.
We left the main trail for a primitive footpath called Orange Arrow. It wound its way through the hemlock and cedar and fern only to emerge along a ridge overlooking the Tolt River and the clearcut logging land beyond. We waded through prickly Oregon grape, skirted swollen puddles, lost and found the leaf-strewn path more than once.
And even though our fingers were numb with cold and winter would officially stretch into March, the signs of spring were all around: Budding vine maple, huckleberry, and alder exclaimed new life amongst the dead things of winter.
There’s something about being together in the wild. It’s a different kind of togetherness than going to the movies or even gathering around the dinner table. To quote the wisdom of John Muir once again, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” And while solitude is precious, I would argue that nothing forges bonds as well as adventuring together.
As for us, we went into the forest expecting exercise, beauty, and togetherness. We emerged more deeply in love with each other and the world, for as John Muir said, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” Amen.
Rachel Womelsduff Gough and her family ditched the city for a patch of earth in the Snoqualmie Valley. Cheered on by her husband and two blonde babes, Rachel learns by getting her hands dirty, whether it’s gardening, chicken farming, canning, or adventuring with soulmates in wild places. She reads a book every two days, and can’t live without coffee, flowers, and classic mystery stories.