A Wood-Foraging Workout

IMG_1402

© Liesl Clark

It occurred to me, last winter, when high winds blew down so many trees, that I could help clear the trails, rather than just hike them. The added benefit was wood.

IMG_1470

Blown-down wood on a Pacific Northwest Trail © Liesl Clark

Rather than carrying a backpack filled with random items to give me added weight for a pre-expedition workout, I realized the resource I could gather on my hikes was right at my feet. My friend, Yangin Sherpa, walks 5 miles a day to collect wood where she lives. Why couldn’t I?

Trail

We heat our home with wood and our property provides most of what we need. But I realized that every day, during the storm season, I was picking up and throwing aside big chunks of wood that had come down the day before onto the trails we hike on our hill.

IMG_1467

Huge Trees Come Down, Blocking Our Trails, All Winter Long © Liesl Clark

I bring an empty pack after a windstorm and load it with large chunks blocking the trail that I would otherwise throw aside. There’s so much wood out there, areas where blow-downs outnumber the trees standing. I figure a small payment for my clearing of the trails are the few pieces I can gather to add weight to my gait, to give greater resistance to my uphill climb so I can prepare for the high passes and cliffside traverses we do each summer in the Himalaya.

IMG_1469

Payment for My Pains © Liesl Clark

I find joy in knowing what it feels like to walk 5 miles for a bundle of wood that will keep my family warm for one more day.

IMG_0578

What are your simple pleasures?

IMG_1453

 

 

Backyard 7 Summits Project: Kitsap County’s Highest Peak

By Cleo Clark-Athans, Grade 4

IMG_475892539-11

Climbing Gold Mountain © Liesl Clark

We did it!

We reached the highest point in our county today. It’s called Gold Mountain and is only 1,687 feet high. It took about an hour and 10 minutes to get to the top. Two miles to the summit, but it was straight up through a thick forest, until we hit a logging road with extraordinary views.

IMG_1327

We could see across many lakes and Hood Canal to the Olympic Mountains out on the Peninsula. My brother was happy to get to the top, with sweeping views and high winds.

IMG_1328

Million Dollar View, 50 Miles Wide © Liesl Clark

Although our county doesn’t have extremely high peaks, I’m planning to climb all 7 of the highest mountains as part of my Backyard Seven Summits Project, an attempt to get kids outdoors to explore the high points in their own counties.

IMG_1329

Gold Mountain Lets You See From Sea to Summit © Liesl Clark

We’ve done 2 out of 7 summits and they’re all beautiful hikes, in the Blue Hills of Kitsap County. Most people don’t even know about these peaks. They’re hilltops for all of us to get on top of for great expansive views of a luscious green landscape from the sea to the glaciers on the highest points of the Olympic Peninsula.

IMG_1331

Sibling Time Together © Liesl Clark

The journey down is like a dream, easy, and it goes by fast, with so much to see on the horizon miles and miles away. But if you watch your feet there are semi-precious stones to be found on these trails, like agates. We learned this from a man we met on the trail. He also said he saw fresh puma tracks. Hiking gets people outside but it also gets people to talk to each other.

IMG_1325

PNW Whimsey © Liesl Clark

There’s plenty to marvel at when you just get outside. Our dog, Sailor, knows this.

Have you climbed your own seven summits in your neighborhood? If so, please write in the comments below so we can hear about your adventures.

IMG_1324

The Backyard Seven Summits Project © Liesl Clark