On New Years Day I went for a hike to Lily Lake. The territory was a bit unfamiliar to me and full of unexpected obstacles. I literally had to dodge clumps of snow falling from the trees above me, and there was much more snow on the trail than I anticipated. It was also more beautiful than expected. The low hanging sun filtered through the trees lighting up the snow in orange. Every branch was topped with a thick layer of snow giving them a magical quality. I felt like I crossed into Narnia. When I reached the lake I found it completely frozen over and I wandered out onto it feeling brave while examining the exquisite jagged crystals of hoar frost that covered everything in sight.
Much like my journey to Lily Lake, my first year of writing and sharing stories on Alpine Lily has been an unexpected adventure. Before I started the blog I was feeling low and stressed out at work. My company was downsizing and my mentors and long time coworkers were leaving while I was left with more work. I was struggling and felt like I was just getting by each day, surviving. This caused a serious case of wanderlust. I counted down the hours to the weekend so that I could escape and get out to explore and replenish my energy. I hiked every weekend and racked up the miles as I checked off the trails off in my guide books. I always felt great in the mountains but no matter how many miles I logged, I still dreaded Monday morning.
So then I got the idea to start Alpine Lily. I wanted to do something completely different from my day job (engineering) that was fulfilling and creative and completely for my own pleasure and joy. I was filled with a rush of excitement and purpose. I made a list of books I’ve read and adventures I’ve been on that I wanted to write about and, more importantly, made a list of new adventures and books to read so that I could write about them. I found myself taking short walks outside at work when I got frustrated, and instead of thinking about work while I walked, I thought about what I would write on the blog. Instead of just filling up the week with thinking about what trails to check off, I started reading inspiring books and planning fulfilling adventures. The wanderlust that was only making me dislike my job more morphed into a sense of purpose and inspiration.
Over the past year I quit my job and found a better one. I volunteered for trail work five times for the Washington Trail Association and earned my very own hardhat. I spent a weekend camping with my sister in California and another in Oregon with my other sister discovering waterfalls. I tried sketching and painting on my hikes and went clamming and foraging for the first time. I took my friends backpacking and hiked with strangers that became friends. My husband and I revisited Green Mountain, the first peak we attempted to climb in Washington, after the trail was closed for nine years and finally made it to the top. We also revisited our home states back east and shared our favorite childhood outdoor places with each other and our families. I read so many books! I didn’t get in the number of miles that I was hoping for, but the quality of the miles more than made up for it.
I completed most of the goals that I set last year, but I am taking a different approach this year. I have only one goal for the year- to go into the outdoors as much as possible with my loved ones and with purpose. In addition, I came up with a Life List- experiences I want to have sometime in my life with no specific end date. These are things that are near and dear to my heart, not just places and trails to check off a list. Here are some of them in hopes of inspiring you to do the same.
- Spend a night in a lookout and/or lighthouse
- Find an Alpine Lily flower in the wild
- Start an outdoor book club
- Backpack solo
- Hear wolves howling at the moon
- Night kayaking
- Snow camping
- See the northern lights
- Climb all the volcanoes in Washington with my husband
- Visit the Three Sisters Wilderness in Oregon with my two sisters
- Visit an active volcano
- Hot air balloon ride
I wish you a very Happy New Year filled with lots of inspiration and quality time on the trails!
Hikes featured in this post:
A Craving for Inspiration (my very first blog post!)
Goals for 2015
Road Trip: Big Sur
Landmarks: Columbia River Gorge
A Foraged Meal
Hiking With Strangers
Return to Green Mountain
But, Where Are All The Men?
NE Road Trip Part 2: Vermont
NE Road Trip Part 3: NY & PA