My origin was a little town, sitting at 2,600 metres above sea level, known for its gold mining past and antique stores, by the name of Georgetown. Located in the rocky mountains of Colorado. My destination was a very well known mountain village, riddled with loose Australians. Yep, it was Whistler.
The 6-day trip found me covering 3,000km’s of highways and forest roads. My transport and accommodation was a bulky 7 seater 2003 Ford Explorer V8 that I unexpectedly grew very fondly of. Having only one blanket, one sleeping bag, one pillow and nothing even close to resembling a mattress, it’s fair to say a lounge felt like a king bed by the time I got to Whistler. But in all, the lack of sleep and sore back was made up for by breathtaking sights and an astonishing sense of freedom.
In the first day, I had crossed into the state of Utah and was then heading North to my destination for that day, Salt Lake City. After getting lost in the city, I smoke bombed it out of there as quick as possible and was then looking ahead at my new destination at the end of a straight road. It was Antelope Island that sits on the Great Salt Lake. Icebergs of salt floated in the stagnant lake either side of the road and in any direction I looked, snowcapped mountains popping out above the cloud of smog was the only thing I could make sight of. From deserted boat docks to wild Bison, the island was so appealing to the eye and like nothing I’d seen before. I broke the rules and ended up sleeping in my car over on the island that night, parked in the sneakiest spot I could find so that the rangers couldn’t find me.
I drove for about 9 hours that next day, crossing from Utah into Idaho, and then onwards into Oregon. I only stopped a couple of times in Idaho for fuel and to take a few photos from the road. I found Idaho to be very textbook America with its dead straight highways, desolate farms as far as the eye could see, towns that stunk of beef and the country music blasting over the loudspeaker at petrol stations.
I stopped in the first town over the border which was Ontario, it was quiet and cold with not much to see. Everything here was frozen and white like a winter wonderland, even each single twig on the trees was iced over.
Not long after being back on the road, I pulled off the highway to take a leak and once again mistakingly stumbled across a place called Farewell Bend. There wasn’t a human in sight and I found myself standing in front of the calmest water I’d ever witnessed that mirrored the snow-covered mountains on the other side of the river and a picture perfect jetty upstream. The rest of the day I continued west through Oregon until I set up camp (folded down car seats) in a rest stop just past a town called Pendleton. I edited photos and sipped on red wine, straight from the bottle of course, until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.
This next morning I woke way before the sun was scheduled to rise like usual, with an eager feeling to see what this day would bring and a strong desire for a hot coffee. I drove about an hour up the highway to a nice little town situated along the mighty Columbia River named The Dalles. I found my Starbucks and made a plan for that day.
That day consisted of driving through Mount Hood National Forest, hiking to a frozen lake and hiding from the rain which soon turned to snow. Continuing on to Columbia River Gorge where I hiked and explored for hours on end, completely in awe of the natural beauty, the never ending amount of roadside waterfalls and clean fresh air. I was like a kid in a candy shop at each waterfall I arrived at. Other tourists were looking twice at me when I’d come walking through with big baggy green trackies, snowboard jacket, drenched from the rain looking like a drowned rat. Backpack on my front with a towel over my head trying to keep me and the bag dry and my right hand holding my camera inside of my jacket keeping it out of the rain as much as possible. My keeping dry tactics didn’t work at all as my camera got soaked and I scratched my lens from wiping it constantly. You win some you lose some.
I arrived at Silver Falls State Park way too early the next morning and had to wait a couple of hours in the car until it was light enough to start hiking. I soon realised why they call it the crown jewel of Oregon’s state parks, covering 9,000 acres and hosting one of America’s most impressive waterfall day hikes. That morning I spent 4 and a half hours walking through this magical forest overwhelmed with happiness and freedom. The hike took me to 10 different waterfalls, each one individual but equally amazing. Every tree through this forest was draped in lime green moss giving a strong sense of life and nature, not just working together, but thriving together. The energy in the forest took hold of me and I couldn’t have a single negative thought in my mind, I was so content and present.
I believed I was meant to be there that day. It amplified my love for nature 10 fold and made sense that just the day before I got a tattoo of a lady hugging a tree. I count down the days until I am submerged in nature so beautiful and pure like that again.
The rest of that afternoon I spent on the road heading north, back through Portland and crossing into Washington. I had originally planned to visit and hike through Olympic National Park in Washington but time was getting on so I decided to stay on the road. I slept in a rest stop just an hour south of the Canadian border that night. Once again, editing photos and sipping on wine, with a very, very happy heart.