Last week, I hiked Silver Falls State Park, which is just outside of Salem, Oregon. The park is picturesque and beautiful. There are two main trails that take you from the South Falls to the North Falls and back again, for a total of 8.7 miles.
One trail takes you down into the gorge, and winds you in and out of different smaller trails. Along the way there are 10 different waterfalls you can experience. I managed to see 7 or 8; and, they were stunning.
I started at the South Falls, which is where the largest waterfall is located.
Gorgeous, yes? Yes.
From there it is about a 4 mile hike to the North Falls, and along the way there are some very pretty landscapes and riverscapes.
Here some of the other waterfalls along the way.
Once at the North Falls, I stopped to eat and drink a little. At this point, you can hike up to the Upper North Rim, which adds another .8 miles to the trip. I chose to forgo that portion of the hike, and head back along the rim trail.
About half-way back to the South Falls, I descended again into the gorge. It was such a fun trip. I began the hike at 7:30 am and finished at 11:15 am. When I started there were only a few cars in the parking lot, and when I finished there were only a few parking spaces left.
As I hiked I reflected upon my time growing up in Los Angeles, and the privilege I had as a child, youth, and young adult. Privilege in seeing and experiencing so much diversity. Diversity in landscapes, people, places, well, all of it was diverse. Lovely.
For the past 12 years, I’ve lived in much smaller areas, and I miss diverse people and places. Yet, as I hiked back to the South Falls last week, I was pleasantly surprised by the flood of diverse people coming into the park and on the trails. Yes, I did also get a little anxious. Mainly due to being away from people this past year during the pandemic.
Yet, most of what I felt was the deep connection I always get when I’m around people. As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), I have the ability to feel other people’s emotions deeply, and can get from people, without words, much. Yes, it can be overwhelming, and, yet, it is also deeply profound. A true gift.
Being around so many diverse people excites me even more for my trip to Los Angeles next week, and for the coming trips I’ll take in the next few years.
This week was full of preparation for the next fiscal year; and, continuing to reflect upon all of the beauty that surrounds us – really, both are equally true of this past week.
Before I write more about the latter, let’s take a look at the writing that occurred this week.
Writing and Reflecting
The poem Beyond Time was a reflection on the internal work I’ve been engaged in these past four years. Continuing to be present to my emotions as they arise, and then following those back to the experiential seed.
The poem is also a reflection upon stillness of mind, which can and does occur, and the fact that, in those moments there is no time; it simply does not exist. Beautiful.
Writing the poem Atop, which was inspired by the WDYS #82 prompt, from Keep it Alive, by Sadje, was an interesting process. Initially, I had one idea, even wrote two stanzas, and then as I contemplated the two stanzas, another insight occurred, which is the poem in its present state.
Simply, the world exists in its present condition, when we view it as such. New experiences occur, and the world comes into view. As I’ve written about previously, the view we experience is based upon the concepts we hold about the world; and, this is only one way to view the world.
As I’ve found out about, and experienced, there are many other ways to view the world, which is, well, quite freeing.
I will save the details of the hike for the next installment of the Willamette Valley Wanderings and Wonderings series, however, I just had to include a few more pics in this diary entry.
As I walked around campus this week, and contemplated the hike I was going to take on Saturday, I was present to all of the beauty that surrounds us. A flower blooming, a bird calling, a leaf dancing in the wind, a stranger helping another, there are so many things right in front of us, when we pay attention.
Part of my internal work, as you know, also includes my meditation practice, which has been transformational in my life. Being fully present is a gift, and we all have this gift within us.
When we let go of the concepts that typically drive our reactions, pause, reflect and contemplate our life, we learn stillness; and, it is in this stillness where presence to all that is within us, and without us lives. Beautiful.
As you walk through your week, notice the flowers, the trees, the people, and how that makes you feel. It is a tremendous experience.
There are so many places to hike in the Willamette Valley. It is a beautiful place, full of rivers, creeks, hills, lakes, and, yep, lots and lots of trails.
This past week, I stayed local again, and completed a short hike out at Chip Ross Park. Chip Ross Park is located in North Corvallis, and is, in part, connected to the McDonal Research Forest, which I wrote about in my last entry.
The hike I completed at Chip Ross Park this past week, is a moderate trail, fairly level, sans the trails beginning, which is somewhat steep. The hike winds you back through the dense forest, where you can catch glimpses of wildlife, flowers, and many, many varieties of plants.
Here are some pics from the hike.
Beautiful, yes? Yep, I think so too.
As I wandered through the forest last week, I was wondering about joining a gym again. I’ve been noticing that my body is tight, especially in my shoulders, arms, and back. Much of this is due to the extensive amount of computer facetime that is required, and has been for almost 15 months, in a remote work world.
When you spend 12 hours a day on a computer, working and then, yep, blogging, and are focused, you sit, well, a lot. Thus, more movement is needed. Yet, I am unsure if I’m ready to go to the gym regularly.
Pre Pandemic, I was at the gym every day. Really. I rarely missed. Yet, today? I’m not sure if that is necessary or needed. Hm. More reflection needed.
What have you done to stay mobile during the pandemic?
Alright, that’s all for this installment. Next time, I’ll have some waterfalls to show you, as I will be traveling up to Salem to hike Silver State Falls next week. Fun.
Here are a few more pics from the hike, just for fun.
I’ve now lived in Corvallis, Oregon for almost 9 years. We moved to Corvallis in 2012 for my graduate school education, which I am happy to report has been complete for many years.
Corvallis is a small town located in the Willamette Valley, about 90 miles South of Portland, and 50 miles North of Eugene. It is a quaint little city with approximately 56,000 residents, and home to Oregon State University.
I’ve been hiking around Corvallis for years, and yet never hiked the McDonald Research Forest until about 3 years ago. There are a plethora of trails, of all difficulty levels, within the research forest, with beautiful views.
Last week, I hiked the Vineyard Mountain Trail, which is of moderate difficulty, and is about 3.4 miles, if you do the whole loop. On the hike, you get to take in the forest in all of its beauty, which includes many different types of plants, trees, and flowers, and, if you are lucky and it is quiet, which it usually is, some birds. Beautiful.
Here are some pictures from my hike last week.
As I hiked the Vineyard Mountain Trail last week, I was present to the beauty of nature; and, the beauty in being present with nature. When we are fully present, all of life takes on richer and deeper colors; the vibrancy of which is stunning. Lovely.
Alright, as I mentioned in a previously published diary entry, this post is part of one of my new spring and summer series. In this series, I will take in a different hike every week or so, and then write about my reflections.
Thus, we will get to wander and wonder throughout the Willamette Valley together. Fun.
Wow, how is it that we are now in mid-April? Phew, not sure, time is moving, well, rather rapidly at the moment. Anyway, the past week was busy for numerous reasons. Yes, lots of work, and writing, and I did get my first vaccination dose last week.
More on that in a moment.
Let’s first take a look at two writing reflections, and two new series, shall we? Okay, here we go.
Writing and Reflecting
The poem Sprite, was inspired by the WDYS #77 prompt from Keep it Alive, by Sadje. I had a lot of fun with this little poem. Sadje’s prompt reminded me of being at the coast. Many of you know how much I love the beach, or coast, or sea, or shore, or whatever the ocean is called where you live. I grew up near the ocean, and love it much.
As I was reflecting upon the picture, it reminded me about my trip to Yachats a couple of months ago, and an antique store I visited during my trip. The prompt picture looks like something that the little shop would have stocked and sold. From there, it was off and running. One insight after another; and then, the poem was finished. Super fun.
The Poem Becoming (2), was inspired by a breakdown I had last Saturday. It was a rather large breakdown, which, as you might surmise I would write, is perfectly okay, even needed and wanted. Why?
Because it’s part of the process of being a human being. If we hold our emotions inside all the time, and actively resist them, we are resisting life. However, when we are with our emotions as they come, we are going with the flow of life.
I actually wrote the poem in intervals during the breakdown. Writing is, at times, how I process my emotions. It reminds me I am not alone; never, in fact, alone. None of us are. We are all connected. Always have been, always will be. Lovely.
2 New Series
Alright, some of you already know about one of these new series, Community Gardening, the first post of which was published this morning. As I wrote in the first post, it occurred to me this weekend that I’ll have many more updates from the community garden, which is why a new series made perfect sense.
I am excited to continue to update you as we move deeper into Spring, and then Summer.
One of the things I love to do where I currently live, Corvallis, Oregon, is hike. I love hiking, especially during the Spring and Summer. The weather in this part of the US is gorgeous during Spring and Summer. Love it.
It occurred to me that a series on hiking the Willamette Valley, then, made sense. I will travel throughout the valley this spring and summer and hike, reflect, and learn more about areas in the valley I’ve not yet visited. And, we can hike, reflect, and learn together through my trips. Fun.
I’ve not come up with a title yet. If you have ideas, please let me know. I’ve already completed my first hike, which was lovely, and will create the first entry in this new series in a week or two.
Yep, I got my first vaccination dose, well, two Fridays ago now. It was actually a super simple process. I am grateful to all of the people working and volunteering to make the vaccine more and more accessible. Thank you.
Well, as many of you know, I do yoga everyday. Meditation is a step of yoga, which I’ve now practiced for almost 4 years. There are 8 steps in yoga, and while I have been meditating, or practicing Dhyana for years now, I am not as well practiced at body movement with the breath.
Therefore, my life coach and teacher has put me on a very gentle path to increase the movement and blood flow in and to my upper body. It is important that the practice is gentle, as I have two shoulder injuries, which happened some time ago, yet have been exasperated by the pandemic.
Anyway, the point is that I am finding great relief in the practice; and am excited about the movement returning to my shoulders. Awesome.
The trail winds to the left, and, yes Sometimes I do feel bereft, yet not usually When I’m in this scene, which is just like a dream.
Something from the fiction books, beautiful and deeply Colored earth underfoot, stunning shrubbery and foliage Descending and ascending on either side, reminding me Of such kinder times. Trees as tall as the sky, looking up, feeling Dizzy, and completely in love with this misty morning.
A deep grin catches my eye, as I continue to fly Along the trail, listening to only my heart beat, and the sounds of the forest underneath.
Being present, I let the thoughts drop back, One foot in front of the other, breathe in deep, and remember we are all in this play for keeps.
In response to the WDYS #74 prompt from Keep it Alive, by Sadje.
Trail winds to the right, Closed at first, and then open. Beautiful.
A lovely hike today at the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge just outside of Corvallis, OR. Such a lovely day. I added a few more of the pictures I took below. And, well, that was my one thing this afternoon.
I’ve written several posts about the need for quiet time. Time just for us, to reflect upon our day or week, and to just be. Important. Do you take time for yourself? I didn’t for a very long time. Not the case today. Too important.
If you do, great, if not, it’s not a demerit. Rather, it is an opportunity. An opportunity to take time and learn more about yourself.
When we stay busy all day, and don’t create the space for quiet time, we are quite literally burning out. Burning our creativity, and potential. We must rest, and have time to think, reflect, and be. When we recharge, we get more.
More insight, and more resilience. Both.
It is when I am most quiet that more insights show up. Much more. When the mind slows, receives the time it needs, you open it up to more insight. You also recharge your resiliency levels. Also very helpful.
There are many ways to create quiet time. If you’ve never created this space for yourself, it can be hard. It’s okay. Take the time you need to create it. It can also be hard for people around you. Setting boundaries around your quiet time is needed and necessary.
As you practice, you will create a healthy habit, and people around you will respect it. Be persistent.
Today, up at 4 am, I worked on my website, then a little Extended Learning work, time with a friend, and a hike in the quiet. 7.2 miles. Was lovely.
Here are some pics from my hike.
This first one was early on in the hike, maybe mile 2 or so. As the trail winds around the hill, you get to experience trail portions that are shaded and cool, and trail portions that are exposed and in the sun.
I took the above picture not long after the first one, and, as you can see, it is a nicely shaded portion of the trail. Very tall trees on this trail, beautiful.
This picture is not quite at the top of the hill, yet it is very close. The banner picture on this post was close to this spot, and, as you can see from the banner picture, I caught a hawk in flight. Super cool
There are three things I do during my quiet time. If you have never created that time for yourself, give it a try. I know it can be hard, especially if you’ve never done it before.
And, when I write quiet time, I mean time away from distraction and stimulation, such as computers, televisions, books, and other people.
Here are those three things. Walks, hikes, and meditation. That’s it. Well, for today anyway.
If you like walking, walk. If you like hiking, hike. And, if there is something else you like to do, do that. It matters less what you do, than it is you get the time you need to rest and recharge.
I would also invite you to calendar it, especially if you are just starting out. Start with once-a-week. You can increase as you go. Start small. One step at a time. Then increase it as you go, until you get into a habit that works for you.
Alright, a reflection today on creating quiet time for ourselves. So important. Create time for yourself. When you do, you get more back, and you are able to give more to yourself and everyone else around you.
Growing up in Los Angeles meant that I could go to the beach, the desert, and the mountains. We didn’t spend a lot of time at the latter two, however, as I’ve written about in The Sound of Series #1: The Sound of the Ocean, I did spend a lot of time at the beach as a kid. And, my affinity for the ocean is vast.
Yet, in the past 12 years, we’ve now lived in two other geographies where access to desert and mountain landscapes, and soundscapes, are readily available. Let’s take a look at a few of these and the sights and sounds that I’ve most enjoyed.
There are a couple of different desertscapes that I’ve lived in. When we were in Phoenix, there was the Valley, which is full of hills and desert plateaus, which are often hiked. There is a certain majesty to desertscapes. Not something that I had ever noticed, nor really connected with prior to living in the Valley.
On the trails, you get to see many different types of cacti, low bushes and shrubbery. You also get to see wildlife, such as snakes, scorpions, and rabbits. They are rather common. Though, thankfully, snakes don’t come around often, at least not when I was hiking. Which, I was grateful for.
The sound of the desert is a quiet that is a bit different than the quiet of the mountains. The granular sound of dust as it is kicked up as you traverse the trails, getting all over your shoes, and all over you, really. Fun.
Rabbits moving here and there, swishing through the brush, in search of their prey, or simply avoiding you. The wind, as it howls through the Valley, whistling through the shrubbery and low bushes, brushing your face and body. Enjoyable, and feels so good, especially on hot days, of which there are many in the Valley.
The sound of lizards as they scurry across the trail, moving ever so fast, avoiding you as you continue up and around the bends in the trails. Birds moving from one rock and tree to another, perching themselves, sitting, and waiting; looking, and calling other birds in the area.
What I didn’t know a lot about before moving to Arizona, was just how different the Valley was from the northern part of the state. Though considered high-desert, it is really a completely different landscape, with similar, and yet very different sights and sounds.
The high desert in Northern Arizona is full of trees, many of them, especially in Flagstaff. A vast pinetree forest. You can get lost in there quite easily, and it is fun. Much of Northern Arizona, however, is mostly desert, like the valley, though the weather is quite different. Cooler, and of course lots of snow in the winter.
I remember being on a hike when we first moved to Flagstaff, just around the apartment where we were living at the time. I was on a trail and was looking down, noticing all of the lovely flowers to my left and right, and when I picked my head up, there was a huge stag about 50 yards from me.
Heart racing, I began to slowly back away from the animal, back the way I came, looking toward the stag to ensure it didn’t follow or run at me. I was completely unaware at the time, that running into a giant deer was even possible. Remember, I grew up in Los Angeles. You have to travel to see that kind of beauty in LA. Phew. What an experience.
I especially liked hiking in the winter. There’s something quite tranquil about being out on a hike, when everything is white with snow, melting and dripping in the afternoon sun. Quite lovely.
Of course, the Grand Canyon is also in Northern Arizona. Majesty. I’ve only been once or twice, and I have to say, looking out over the canyon is one of the most awe inspiring sights I’ve ever seen. It is so vast. Amazing. And, there really is no sound. Not needed. It’s as if time stands still as you look out over the vast gorge. Phew. The coolest thing.
The Willamette Valley Scape
Have you ever been to the Willamette Valley? I hadn’t either until about 12 years ago. It is located in Western Oregon, and is very green. The first time I flew into Portland, we were living in Phoenix at the time, I didn’t know geography could be that green. I remember looking out the window from the plane, and being in awe of all the green. Everything was green.
When we moved to the Valley about 8 years ago, I remember thinking about the rain a lot. Would I be able to handle all of the rain? Was very unsure. Turns out, there’s been only one year, about 2 years ago, when there was so much rain, and lack of sunshine, that I thought moving might be best. Mostly, throughout the year, you get sun here and there, and, yes, you get a lot of rain. It’s part of living here.
With the rain, you also get the opportunity to get out and into nature. Easily. Trails, and hiking abound, where you can, dependent on the time of year, get hard pack trails, or muddy and slippery trails. You have to be careful. You also get tons of moss. Moss grows everywhere, and is on everything. Seriously, moss is also part of living in the Pac Northwest.
You also get deer. Friendly deer. Meaning, that they come down from the hills at certain times of year, usually during spring and summer, and they love to eat your flowers and vegetables. Be careful. A couple of years ago, I had three awesome looking tomato plants when I left for work, and when I got home, they were gone. Really. Gone. All that was left were a few stubs. Kind of funny actually.
There are also lots of waterfalls in the Valley. Hiking plus waterfalls equals a super cool experience. There is something quite exhilarating about the sound and sight of water rushing towards a precipice, then falling, falling, down to the water awaiting below. Separate, yet connected. Super cool.
You also get the coast in Oregon. Lots of coast to visit. As was aforementioned, I’ve previously written about the sound of the ocean, yet mentioning the sight and sound of the ocean here also seems appropriate.
The sound of the ocean reminds me of our own breathing. The coming in of the waves, the going back out of the waves. Waves that are also seemingly separate, yet completely connected. Lovely. There is also something quite special about looking out over the vastness of the ocean. Just looking. That’s it. That’s all. Love it.
The sounds and sights of nature are everywhere, even where I grew up in Los Angeles. One of the things I loved about the sights and sounds of nature in LA, was that of the crickets during summer time. I love that sound. I remember laying in my bed as a child, listening to that sound, thinking and dreaming about the next day.
Crickets singing, singing the song of summer in Los Angeles, to a boy that was ready to create something anew each day. To play, live, and have fun. All the while the sights and sounds of nature surrounded him, as they surround you now. All you have to do is stop, listen, and take them all in.