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Jul 20, 2020
Have you seen the movie Wild? It is based on the auto-biographical book by Cheryl Strayed. She solo hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail from San Diego, CA to Portland, OR after falling into hard times following the death of her mother.
This movie touched my soul. I watched it at home some months after it was released. I was in a rough personal place that was manifesting in health problems that no-one seemed to be able to find a solution to.
I had stopped taking pictures, in fact I hadn’t taken any for a few years.
In January of 2015 I was told by doctors that I needed to limit the strenuousness of my exercise so I took up hiking. It was a natural fit for me. I felt free when I was in nature.
The headaches that plagued me would go away temporarily and I could smile again. I looked forward to every opportunity to get out on a trail.
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I had always wanted to visit Olympic National Park.
I once saw a photo in a magazine that a man took of his small son in the Hoh Rainforest, the ferns towered over the boy’s head, and I knew I would go there one day.
I decided pretty much the same evening after watching Wild that I was going that summer. I only had a couple months to plan the trip so I bought a book and put it together.
In August 2015 I spent 8 days by myself in one of the most magical places on earth. I hiked everyday and took hundreds of photographs.
The photo shown above of Hurricane Ridge was one of the first taken during the trip. It means so much to me because it signified the start of a huge transformation.
That week was full of growth and self-discovery. I pushed myself past my comfort zone and hiked miles into the wilderness—sometimes in complete fear.
This gorgeous alpine lake is only found after hiking down from Obstruction Point.
My favorite beach on the Olympic Peninsula. It is rugged and beautiful and changes with the light.
At the end of the week I left there feeling lighter as if a knot was starting to unravel in my soul. I returned home and things slowly started to evolve.
I returned to Olympic again in 2016, this time for two weeks and my journey continued. It was during that trip that I decided to pursue photography as a career. It is what I love and how I contribute to society.
I am happier now that I have ever been. I am grateful to have had the ability to take these trips and to have the fortitude to push myself through the sticky places to find a better way.
These are Cheryl’s final words from Wild, they seem so fitting: “And I didn't even know where I was going until I got there, on the last day of my hike. Thank you, I thought over and over again, for everything the trail had taught me and everything I couldn't yet know.”
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