As I walk out my front door, I am ready for the day to be over. I had spent 4 hours weeding and felt like I had gotten nowhere. There had been so much on my mind all day that I just wanted to relax and do nothing. When Rebecca had asked if I wanted to go hiking earlier that day however, I jumped at the opportunity. This was the chance to get out of the small town where I would be spending my summer, and to hang out with people other than my boyfriend.
I stand at the corner waiting for Rebecca to pick me up when an unfamiliar car pulls up. I recognize the driver as Carla, a woman I had taken jazz choir with and who used to work at the Challenge Course. I climb in the car feeling slightly awkward. I feel as if I have packed too much stuff with my big backpack, rain jacket and over sized hiking boots. Everyone else was wearing tennis shoes and had just a sweatshirt on. As we drive out of town and head towards highway 97, the country music blares out the speakers. Rebecca talks to her mom on the phone for a bit and then talks to Carla about her love interest. Krissy and I sit awkwardly in the back seat looking out the windows.
Carla isn’t a very good driver, but it is easy to not pay attention to that as we begin to climb. The wind mills draw closer and seeing how massive they are help to put things into perspective. The old abandoned farmhouse on the right side of the road came into view as we made the descent to the turn off for Blewett pass and highway 970. We turn right and begin climbing again. Ingalls Creek, where we are hiking, is over the top of the pass and on the way down the other side before you get to the turn off for Leavenworth.
The car ride becomes more relaxed as each of us become more comfortable with each other. We turn down the music, and begin talking, planning. Carla want’s to pick Morel mushrooms, but none of us know how. But now we are talking about mushrooms, and the conversation takes off from there. We talk about shrooms, and salvia and other drugs. We make plans to go on a new hike once a week, and even a backpacking trip by the end of the summer.
We reach the trail head and with little time to spare we are all out of the car ready to get started. It is already 4:30 in the afternoon and we want to make use of the light while it is still out. We gather around the trail head sign where it gives information about the area and the rules that backpackers have to follow. Carla pulls her camera out of her backpack and sets it on a post to take a ‘before’ photo of our group. When that is done, we begin hiking. Not wanting to seem too eager or not be able to keep up, I begin at the back. Eventually Carla stops to take some pictures and I end up third. Rebecca sets a nice easy going pace that everyone is comfortable with.
As we walk down the path, I can’t help but smile and breathe deeply. I feel the tension of the past couple of days release from my shoulders. Everything that has been on my mind is somehow put to ease as we begin climbing next to Ingalls creek which is more of a raging rush of water than a creek. I find that as I hike, I look down. I don’t want to lose my footing, and the easiest way to ensure that I don’t is to watch where I put my feet. In doing this though, I don’t get the chance to appreciate everything that is around me. I look up now and again, but look back down almost immediately. The easiest way to see everything without actually seeing is to breath. When I lose interest and begin focusing on keeping up, I tell myself to breathe. I take everything in, every scent all mixed together; the freshness that is nature, and I am instantly refocused.
I begin thinking about the beauty of nature. What we don’t stop to think about and appreciate in our everyday lives. And I get that. When you are stuck in a populated area, it doesn’t even have to be a big city, everything is always go, go, go. But just taking a moment to look around you and appreciate every little thing is such a vital aspect of human life. As humans, I believe that we are meant to appreciate things. We are meant to find beauty in things that are of value to us. And I am not talking about material things, I’m talking about the things that we can come back to time and again to keep us sane. With such a materialistic world that we live in and younger generations becoming lazier and lazier, I think it is even more important to pay attention to the little things, and keep them alive and in our culture.
We continue hiking until we found a nice place to stop that goes down to the creek. We take our shoes off and stick our feet in the cold glacial water. Climbing over the big boulders that are interspersed along the edge of the creek, we all struggle to not fall in. The boulders have been smoothed over time, and the ones closer to the water are covered algae. I am in awe at the little plant’s ability to grow in such harsh conditions, but they do. I crouch by the water’s edge and look at all of the rocks there. I pick the ones up that catch my eye until my hands are full. As we get ready to continue hiking, Rebecca mentions how good the water tastes and I run to get my water bottle. I fill it up and take a sip. Immediately my mouth is exploding in the fresh mineral taste of the water. It tastes so much better than tap city water. I look upstream and wish I had time to grab my camera before we had left, but think to myself that I will just have to come back and take my own pictures another day.
As we walk back later in the day, I keep reminding myself to breathe. I keep my eyes on the trail and look for more rocks to pick up and take home. The hike back goes much faster than the going in did. Before I know it we are back at the trail head and Carla is putting the camera on the post again for an ‘after’ picture. I ended the hike with a pine tree. Walking over to the only ponderosa pine in sight, I inhale one last time before getting back into the car. The sweet smell of vanilla and roasted marshmallows fills my nostrils and I just want to stand there forever. But it is time to go back to reality.
We get back in the car and pull away. The hour drive back was long and quiet. It had been a long day for all of us. We find ourselves back in Ellensburg in no time at all, and as we pull off of the highway I take the opportunity to look over my shoulder towards the west one last time. What catches my eye is breathtaking. The sun set is hardly ever this beautiful on the east side of the mountains. The pinkish orange glow shining over the top of the big puffy clouds that are so well associated with this part of the state made for a contrast so unfamiliar that it felt surreal. I realized that we make our own realities. While it may seem that “going back to reality” meant going back to a small town and a job and a boyfriend, I realized that exploring and going on adventures could be my reality. I just had to make it so. And with that realization, I decided to start climbing Manashtash once a week for the next month and go on as many hikes as possible to get into shape and make my dream my reality.
Submitted by adventures-temptress.