As promised, I would like to delve a little deeper into the joys and musings of my solo hike up to Fragrance Lake Lookout (as many of you will know Part 1 was released last week). As I mentioned in Part 1, I have now hiked Fragrance Lake three times.
Once, a number of years ago on my first official solo date
Once, on a nerve wracking first date
And finally, most recently, on a beautiful Fall day, I hiked gloriously alone and danced my way through the forest.
I'd like to begin by comparing my first hike to Fragrance Lake nearly two years ago and my most recent solo-hike up to the Fragrance Lake Lookout.
It was my senior year of college, I had just received my first pair of real, “hardcore” hiking boots (a post graduation present from my really rad Grandma Marty). Fragrance Lake is well known as a moderately easy Bellingham hike. So, knowing I needed to break my boots in for my European travels, I set out for my first solo-hike.
I remember sheer panic rushing through my body when I couldn’t find the trailhead hidden amongst winding roads and evergreens (in reality it's pretty easy to find, right across from Larabee State Park). I nearly gave up and headed home. It was still jarring to be alone, even if I was simply in my own backyard.
Contrarily, on my most recent solo-date up to the lookout I knew exactly where I was going. Daphne (my car) was equipped with her Discover Pass and I, with my favorite daypack and HydroFlask of hot spiced wine.
Moreover, years ago I pushed myself up the trail because I thought I was supposed to. I beat myself up for stopping to sit on a bench and rest. I told myself repeatedly, "you have to reach the top! You have to make it to the lake (*otherwise you’ll fail*)."
This Fall, I saw this very same bench. This time, I did not stop. Instead, I thanked myself for my ability to listen and move through the woods at a pace that made me feel incredible -- I thanked by body for its' strength, growth and sheer power. And when I finally reached the sign that pointed right toward the lake, and left toward the lookout I skipped to left because that’s where I wanted to go. I now understand that when I listen to my desires, I win most valiantly.
When I reached the lookout this Fall I sat in the dirt and opened my journal, sinking into myself and my words, unstoppable and overflowing into the journal on my lap. Years ago, I remember reaching the lake and calling my mom, because I did not yet know how to celebrate my own power without the validation of others.
I now know celebrating myself is by far the MOST VALIDATING type of celebration and acknowledgment!
Months ago, on a very sunny summer day, I ventured out to hike Fragrance Lake for my second time. This time I was not driving myself, I was riding in *Tim’s car (on a first date). I wasn’t confident, self-assured, or filled with passion. I was nervous, fidgety and awkwardly attempting to fill the silence with a never ending stream of words.
On my hike with Tim I didn’t feel comfortable squatting down in the middle of the trail to pee - not exactly common first date behavior. Nonetheless, to my point, when I was alone this fall hiking Fragrance Lake I squatted on the trail many times to pee, and I laughed out loud with glee and gratitude because I wasn’t held back by some man I hardly knew.
I experienced gratitude for my freedom on my fall solo hike. I was able to dance through the woods, and I mean full out, jump, stomp, spin DANCE! I coated myself in sweat as I danced. When I hiked with Tim I moved through the forest carefully, wiping the sweat from my upper lip self-consciously.
I remember discussing trivial things like Tim’s mom's job or our own career goals. This past Fall I noticed uprooted trees, and thought about my own life and how in many ways I will soon uproot myself. I stopped and looked upon deep roots, twisted around boulders; and reminded myself of my ability to root into myself and my support systems. I noticed fragile leafy sprouts shooting out of decaying stumps. So many roots. So much life. Death. And change. All in one place. There’s this beautiful power in nature, it often shows you exactly what you need to know, but on my hike with Tim I had missed it all!
So this past Fall on my solo date I learned a few important lessons that I’d like to close with…
It may feel uncomfortable to take yourself out at first, but ease comes with time. So sit with it. And if you need to call your mom (or anyone else for that matter) that’s okay. Be gentle with yourself.
If you can listen and be present in your wandering, the world will provide. Mother earth is pretty damn spectacular and she will hand out healing, empowerment, answers and guidance -- but if you’re listening to someone else's stories you will miss her messages.
I HIGHLY recommend dancing in the woods!
If you happen to wander the paths of the PNW in the Fall, bring hot spiced wine - you’ll have it all to yourself.
And finally, bring your passions along to keep you company if you’re not entirely comfortable yet. For me, it's bringing my journal and getting so wrapped up in writing for you that the sun sets right in front of me.
Love and light!