I have lived in Washington for almost five years now, but haven’t had much of an opportunity to do any hiking around the Columbia River Gorge. When the Lenore Lake Caves popped up on the Washington Trails Association site, I jumped at the opportunity to end the neglect. The Gorge was perhaps the best part of the trip. Void of a lot of vegetation, the beauty here can be found in how the river cuts through the valley like a knife. Brown boulders flanking both sides have not been able to withstand the slow hands of time. Try as they might, they will never be able to stop the erosion.
The caves were really accessible. They were an easy hike and would probably be a great hike for families or novice hikers. After five years of living in Washington, I was looking for something a little more strenuous. Within a mile and a half of the trail head, we reached the caves. After poking around for a little bit, we decided to get off the beaten trail and make our own fun. We hiked up a steep cliff and reached a plateau. From here, we were surrounded by blooming wild flowers and ankle deep grass. Approaching the edge, you could see the entire valley. It was a stunning site that both saved and made the trip.
Staring out at the valley drinking in both the scenery and the quiet calm, I found myself in a meditative state. My mind was free to wander where ever it pleased. It very quickly became fixated on glaciers and time. Millions of years before, everything I could see from this cliff was covered by a vast sheet of ice. As the planet began to warm, the ice retreated, shifted and moved. With each movement, valleys, rivers, canyons and mountain ranges began to dot the landscape. My view was a victim of time and I couldn’t have been more grateful to be lost in its awe.
I proudly live in western Washington. Our landscape is defined by water, mountains, trees and greenery. Eastern Washington is a much different story. It is filled with rolling hills, high desert, drastic changes in temperature and an all-consuming horizon. I, of course, prefer the view in western Washington, but as I visit the other side of the state more often I am reminded of home. The landscape and people remind me of Oklahoma. I feel a connection to them that goes unspoken. I understand their need for space and quiet solitude. I feel a comfort there. While I am far from where I grew up, it is always nice to be able to remind myself of home.
As we drove back home to Seattle via I-90, the view shifted back to the more familiar; mountains stood proud and tall, green dominated, clouds turned into fog displaying their last whims of power before giving way to desert air. Everywhere you turn on Snoqualmie Pass is a vista and a reminder of how lucky we are to live in a beautiful space such as this. Heading from eastern to western Washington, I was also reminded of how lucky we are to live in a place with such diversity both in beauty and people; both things I hope to never take for granted.
Thanks for entering my world,