The Forest is My Happy Place

This past weekend, Tara and I went hiking.

Which seems to be a recurring theme in my life these days. I have gone hiking every weekend for the past month. Maybe in a past life I was Paul Bunyan, but in this one I have traded in my axe for hiking poles. I don’t want to chop down trees; I just want to enjoy them.

I do wish I owned a blue ox, though. How cool would that be?!


I owe my love of nature to my folks, I suppose. For as long as I can remember, we have always gone hiking. Growing up in Hawaii we’d trek through lush bamboo forests, retrieving passionfruit that had fallen from trees that my mom would subsequently turn into these amazing cookies. In Ohio, we bought a pop-up camper and explored some of the farthest corners of the Buckeye State. In South Dakota, the Black Hills were our playground. Hiking has long been an important part of my life.

When I married my ex, hiking took a backseat to other pursuits. Raising kids is hard work, and saps your energy. The last thing in the world you feel like doing is tackling five or six miles through rugged backcountry when you’ve just stepped on a Lego and gotten a whopping three hours of sleep.

After our divorce, I spent a couple of years trying to navigate the dating world (oh-so-fun!) (no, really!) and my newfound freedom before I remembered hiking. One morning in 2009 I woke up and suddenly recalled that getting outside and enjoying nature was something I used to do quite frequently. So I gave it a whirl again. And quickly became hooked.

One of the things I love most about Tara is her own love of getting outside and exploring. During my first trip to Ely, before we were even an official couple, we drove out to Great Basin State Park and ended up doing an alpine hike at Mount Wheeler. Elevation: 10,000′. That was brutal, and just about killed me. Then again, I was a good 60+ lbs. heavier and used to sea level. I’m surprised I didn’t keel over from a heart attack.

We’ve hiked together many times since, and now that I’m fit, it’s only gotten easier. I bet I could conquer Mount Wheeler without even breaking a sweat today. Elevation gain and altitude don’t even faze me. It’s tough to pick a favorite hike – we’ve done a lot of good ones over the years. The hike across the pumice plain to a hidden waterfall in the crater of Mount St. Helens was memorable. As was the Iron Goat Trail and haunted railroad in Steven’s Pass, the Naches Peak Loop at Mount Rainier, and the huckleberry fields in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. If there are trees, I’m in my element. The forest is my happy place.

Here are some pics of recent hikes. Enjoy!

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7 thoughts on “The Forest is My Happy Place

  1. You know Mark, even though I am an urban boy and LOVE living a city, there is a part of me that ADORES the great outdoors, so I can relate to why you enjoy it so much. There is something so incredibly balancing, restorative and healing about nature. In fact, I just
    recently wrote a post about nature, which I will be sharing on my blog soon.

    Your slideshow is AWESOME! And I’ve also enjoyed following you and Tara on Instagram. Your pictures there are always faaaaaaabulous!

    “If there are trees, I’m in my element. The forest is my happy place.”

    I loved that!

    Hope you’re having a super week, buddy!


    1. Thanks, Ron! I look forward to reading your nature post. And you know I am equally enamored of your urban/architectural photos. There’s a different kind of beauty in the manmade, especially when it comes to patterns and design. Your posts are a great reminder of that.

      Hope it isn’t too hot for you. We’re about to hit 100 for the next three days, unfortunately. Summer isn’t dead yet. But SOON!


  2. I love hiking too, though the humidity tends to zap my energy this time of year. I hope to get back to more of it in the Fall. Love your shots on Instagram, esp. Of mountains, since we don’t have that here.


    1. I have another friend from Ohio who took a trip out west last year and kept marveling over the mountains. It’s funny how something I take for granted is so new and different to others. Makes me appreciate where I live that much more!


    1. I don’t have a bucket list, Carl, but if I did, hiking the Appalachian Trail would be on it! The Pacific Crest Trail, too.

      I hope the people telling you to “take a hike” were wearing backpacks at the time!


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