I need wild spaces. Tall jagged mountains, fields of wildflowers, crystal clear streams, views that go on for days, and the simplicity of carrying everything I need on my back. You may be thinking why would anyone need that?
My knees and back were reminding me of my limits.
Just like we need air to breathe, these wild spaces fill my heart, soul, and mind with perspective, gratitude, and awe. I was on a recent backpacking trip near Mt. Rainer. My friend planned a hike that allowed us to go easy. We hiked in for five miles with our heavy packs and set up our camp. Easy is a relative term. My knees and back were reminding me of my limits. The next day we left our camp and hiked up an additional three miles to the base of Old Snowy Mountain. Hiking up the steepest parts without our heavy packs helped us enjoy and soak in the incredible mountain and meadow views. Red and purple wildflowers filled the meadows and in the higher, rocky landscape, patches of intensely colored wildflowers thrived in harsh conditions with sparse soil and no visible water source. I was in complete awe.
We crossed a blinding white snowfield, the Pacific Crest Trail, and had views of Mt. Rainer, Mt. St.Helen’s, and Mt. Adams along with steep ridgelines, green valleys, and trees. There was not a cloud drifting along the deep blue sky. This was rare during this season of fires and smoke. I stopped often along the trail to deeply breathe in the intense beauty of this area. I breathed in as if somehow this landscape would become a part of me.
When we reached the base of Old Snowy we took our day packs off and found the most comfortable rocks to sit on to eat our lunch and soak in the views. After an hour and a half, we decided it was time to start heading back to camp. I stood up and reached for my daypack. I noticed something copper poking out between the rocks. It was a penny! I was surprised to find a penny under the rocks at the base of Old Snowy. I immediately picked it up and thought of my friend who told me that when you find a penny it could be sent from a loved one who has passed on. I held the penny tight in my hand and thought of my precious mom, Rosemary. She passed away in May. She loved me fiercely. I greatly miss her Although she was not a hiker or outdoors person she loved visiting the Pacific Northwest. We went on many trips to Mt. Rainier National Park. She could never get enough of looking at Mt. Rainer. She loved it so much we called it Mt.RoRo.
I stood there with the penny in my hand gazing at Mt. Rainer and could feel my mom’s presence.
As we made our way back to camp my mind wandered in a peaceful bliss. I was filled with gratitude for the experiences of the day and the experiences I’ve had in my life. In comparison to the mountains, streams, and valleys we are small and our time is short. It reminds me to make the most of each day and be the best I can be.
The landscape did become a part of me and will stay with me forever just as my dear Mom will be with me forever.
Experiencing the beauty of this wild place will forever remind me that there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
Wherever you go, go with all your heart
What fills you up with perspective, gratitude, and awe?