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Looking back at 2019

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As I sit here on the eve of a new year and reflect on the past year's adventures, scrolling through the hundreds of images captured on my camera in the past 365 days, I find myself questioning whether this year lived up to my hopes and expectations. In 2019, I had hoped to get outdoors and hike more. I had hoped to get back into writing more blog posts. I had hoped to get braver about taking my now-two-and-a-half-year-old son out on the trails.

Did those hopes come to fruition? Nope. Work schedules made it difficult to plan hikes. Lack of free time, energy, and brainpower made blogging impossible at times. I'm still terrified of taking my son out on a long hike and potentially putting him in a situation where I might not be able to protect him. There are still obstacles to overcome, but this year I've found that rather than being frustrated with the limitations in this season of life, I've taken steps to make my peace with them. Rather than looking back …

Wanderings: Horsethief Butte

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On a hot late-August day, my sister and I pulled into an empty parking lot off highway 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. We intended to take short ramble around Horsethief Butte to stretch our legs and eat lunch before piling back into the car for the four-hour drive home to the Seattle area. I pushed the car door open and immediately felt the late-morning heat radiating from the asphalt underfoot. Dry hills rolled away, golden and grass-covered, in all directions. A handful of turkey vultures circled slowly over the rocky bluff beyond the empty highway, dark smudges against the blue sky. Jaw dropped in surprise, I turned to my sister and whispered in shock It's so quiet!

It was the sounds, or at times the lack thereof, that most struck me during our visit to the Horsethief Butte area. Soles sticking on hot asphalt. Dry grass rustling against pant legs, dusty trail scuffing underfoot. This looked like prime rattlesnake territory, but thankfully that heart-sto…

Wanderings: Multnomah Falls

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It was peaceful here, contrary to my expectations. Shutters clicked and tripods scraped on the paved ground as photographers fussed with their equipment to my left. Behind me, a handful of people murmured as they sat on mostly-empty benches. Before me, a high cliff loomed overhead and down its face tumbled a wispy waterfall, water hissing against mossy rock. The iconic hundred-year old bridge visible in front of the falls was empty of visitors. This was my first visit to Multnomah Falls, and it was not at all what I'd expected.

My sister and I recently took a quick overnight trip to the Portland area, and I had been a bit hesitant at her suggestion that we visit Multnomah Falls on our drive back home to the Puget Sound area. In the handful of other times I'd visited the Gorge as an adult, the locals had generally advised me to avoid Multnomah in favor of quieter waterfall hikes tucked off the beaten path, as this popular tourist attraction right off the highway draws huge cro…