Hello again, everyone! If you’re tuning in to hear from lil’ Syd on the next round of blog posts, then I thank you for joining me! Now that you’re along for the ride, I want to talk about GTHOT (getting the heck out there). Yup, that is an acronym I made up literally as I was writing this, but it encompasses the topic of this post. Anybody and everybody should get out into nature and see all the beauty that is around you!
If you’re in Washington state like I am, then you know that seeing nature only takes a glance out of a window. Enjoying nature and being outside can truly be for anybody and it should be. As an IMBY intern, I truly believe that every single person has their rightful place in nature and that it’s never too late to expand your horizons. As for me, although I have been camping since I was around 6 years young, I didn’t start to hike until much later. The first time I started to hike and seriously enjoy it, I was 15. Before then, I didn’t fully understand just how enjoyable a jaunt in the woods could be, but now I’m hooked.
I was always hesitant to go hiking because I thought I wasn’t experienced enough. I didn’t have hiking boots, hiking poles, expensive backpacks and water bottles, or any of that modern hiking tech. My lack of all these supplies, I realized, was what kept me from hiking for so long. However, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need that stuff! Sure, if you want hiking to be an activity where you can show off your social status through your supplies, then do you; but if you’re just a normal person wanting to stare in awe at nature, know that you also have a place in the woods. To this day, I still don’t have any expensive gear and it’s because I don’t need it, at least not for the hiking I’m doing at the moment.
One of my favorite experiences hiking was actually when I was completely unprepared. It was Veteran’s Day and I had the day off of school, so my friends and I decided to hit the road and hike Melakwa Lake. For those who don’t know about this hike, it’s 8.5 miles roundtrip with 2500 feet of elevation gain and the highest point at 4600 feet. It’s not the hardest of hikes, but it’s no piece of cake either. It was my first time hiking in November and I had completely underestimated how extreme the weather would be on the trail.
For the first two miles, everything was peachy keen, but then snow started to surround us. A light dusting on the edges of the trail suddenly turned into a world of white everywhere we turned. To say that we were ill prepared would be an understatement. I was perhaps the most warmly dressed: only in a t-shirt, flannel, leggings, and my gym shoes. My girlfriend, who is from California, decided to wear shorts and a tank top. We were amateurs in the outdoors: but isn’t that when the best adventures tend to occur?
As we continued the tumultuous climb towards the lake, several of my friends feared we’d never make it to the top before nightfall. Warily, they decided to turn around and head back to the car: defeated, but yearning for the warmth of a heater on their frozen hands and cheeks. Me, being stubborn, couldn’t accept turning around before reaching the top, so my girlfriend and I continued on, running up the mountain so we could get to the lake as fast as possible.
Fifteen minutes of running in nearly a foot of snow later, we reached the top, and it was perhaps the most peaceful moment of my life. It looked as if nobody had been at the end of the trail since the last snowfall, and my girlfriend and I had the entire lake to ourselves. It was quiet, save for a single bird serenading us. The trees were so full with snow they bent over with their tops pointing towards the ground and the lake was a menacing dark blue abyss.
Now, I wouldn’t recommend hiking to Melakwa Lake in shorts and a tank top in November to anyone, but let this story serve as a personal testament to the fact that expensive gear won’t guarantee an incredible time. It’s not the gear, but the people you’re with (or not with) and the simple desire to see something you’ve never seen before that promise for a good trip.
Last summer, my girlfriend and I decided we wanted to see Melakwa Lake in another season, so we returned to that fateful trail. It was magical again, but we both agreed that nothing could ever top our Veteran’s Day hike to Melakwa and sitting next to that frozen lake amidst the snow covered trees. So, now that you’ve read my story, it’s time to make your own! GTHOT and have the time of your life.