From the 808 to the 503

posted in: Opinion | 0

As the last full week of classes comes to a close, signaling the forthcoming end of the semester, the promising fruit of summer dangles just beyond our reach. It is ripe with youth and bathed in sunlight. We are so close.

During vacation times–like the summer that is nearly upon us–I have developed a love of hiking back at home in the islands. Lush tropical forests are blanketed in mist near the summits of peaks, giving way to a panoramic view of ocean everywhere, aquamarine near the shore and deep cerulean as it reaches out to touch the horizon. Each trail holds its own challenges, balanced neatly with rewarding views at the finish.

Now I’m no expert, so I stick to the relatively straightforward hikes, marked trails, and doubt the suggestion that backpacking for 39 miles would be fun. So as my friends and I picked a location for our hike this past Saturday, we settled on Angels Rest, a trailhead with a parking lot, family-friendly and only a little more than five miles round trip.

It was incredible.

I hadn’t really considered hiking in Oregon, despite the constant bombardment of signs and flyers telling me to do just that, mainly because hiking was something I did at home. I wasn’t sure how that knowledge would translate here, what with a completely different climate, different wilderness and different wildlife (snakes and cougars and bears, oh my!).

I was surprised by the similarity. We still trekked through stones and mud and dirt to reach the top, all the while surrounded by the fresh smell of pine and armies of the same trees standing at attention in every direction. So that was different. There was also markedly less wildlife; at home the birds pursue us, hoping that we might drop some food. The view from the top, though, was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen with my own eyes.

See, I’ve learned something from my mainland friends: things are bigger here. I was met with laughter when attempting to explain our Salt Lake, which would be considered a pond here, if even that. So it’s no surprise that the mountains–or cliffs or whatever terminology suits you–reached much higher into the sky than those back at home. The result was a spectacular view.

Cars cruised by along the freeway beneath us, our distance slowing their movement. I was convinced I could swim the width of the Columbia Gorge over to Washington; it looked so short from where we were. A falcon soared beneath us, rather than overhead. And to the left and right, as far as I could tell, the gorge continued, its dark green band twisting and coiling to the west, stretching out to the east.

Overall, it majorly surpassed my expectations. Oregon clearly had more in store for me than just walks along the coast and adventures in Powell’s Books. A whole new arena just opened wide, split right open, and I intend to explore it as far as reason will follow.

So as you head off in pursuit of the perfect summer, I hope that you will also pursue some new possibilities. I’ll be in Oregon all summer, so you can bet I’ll know some hikes real well by the end of it. I hope you make the unknown familiar, and get something great as a result.


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