Saturday, February 8, 2014

Take a Hike

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One of my greatest passions is the outdoors. Ever since I was a kid, being outside is where I've felt most at home. I grew up on a dairy farm in Custer, Washington where I spent most of my time building forts out of hay bales in the barn, playing with our animals, shooting BB guns with my siblings, or exploring in the trees out in the field. As an adult, I'm pretty much exactly the same.

Two things I enjoy are going on hikes and photography. And lucky me, I live in the perfect area for both of those activities. My house is less than ten minutes from the ocean, twenty minutes away from some of the most beautiful hiking trails, forty-five minutes from snow-covered Mt. Baker, and two hours from Seattle. I'm not a professional photographer, heck, I don't even own a legitimate camera...yet. I just love exploring my state and taking pictures with my iPhone.

Hiking is one of those things that just has countless benefits and I wish more people would take advantage of that, especially people who live in an area where the opportunity is right in their back yard. The endless health benefits alone should get people interested! Hiking lowers your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, improves fitness, improves the health of your heart and lungs, lowers your risk of high cholesterol and various types of cancers, reduces depression and risk of early death, helps with weight loss improves your quality of sleep...the list goes on. Hiking is cheap! All you really need is some suitable clothing which you likely already own, a good pair of hiking boots (or even just decent shoes, depending on the hike), and at most, a day pass to hike the area. However, the most important reasons aren't because it's affordable or because it's healthy because honestly, there are other things that are cheap and good for your health.

There are other things that hiking can offer you that most activities can't. Each time I go on a hike I experience a unique perspective. When you're at the summit or at a lookout, you see things from a perspective that you likely haven't before. Sometimes you can see places you've been that you've never seen from above, buildings that seemed huge now seem miniscule. But most importantly, being at the top always makes me realize how tiny I am. It makes me realize how beautiful and vast the world is, and how I'm but a tiny speck. Another benefit is that it simply builds your confidence. If you set out to reach the summit of a particular hike and you get to the top, it's one of the most rewarding feelings. You accomplished what you set out to do and you get  to drop your pack, take a seat, and soak in an incredible view in the company of your friends, or what's even better sometimes, soak it in by yourself.

I've been hiking since I was a little girl but I just recently started taking pictures of my hikes in September of 2013. The first hike I ever decided to photograph was the hike featured in these photos, the Excelsior Peak hike on September 18th...which ended up being one of the more difficult hikes I've ever been on. We started our hike from North Fork Nooksack Valley instead of Damfino Lakes Trail and because of that decision, our hike had an elevation gain of 4,000 vertical feet instead of the Damfino option of 1,500 feet. It was an extremely tough hike but well worth it when we got to the top and the forest opened up into beautiful meadows. I wish it would have been a clearer day, but it was still stunning.

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