One thing I love about hiking the Gorge in the winter is the quietude. It's cold, and snowy, and you are generally the only person around. Or at least, fellow hikers tend to be spread out.
The air is crisp and smells like snow.
It is electric, alive, and you can feel it in your bones.
This year, for a New Year's Day hike, we took a group of friends to Catherine Creek in Washington. It's a nice short hike, but has plenty of beauty along the way. As we crunched our way up dirt trails that had been swollen by ice crystals, we passed a beautiful arch that is said to be a sacred site for the local Native Americans. We crossed a creek--my canine companion happily dragging me across the bridge--and came up onto the top of a ridge, which overlooks the Columbia River Gorge.
This is home to me.
This will always be home.
It captures my heart and holds my soul like no other place ever could.
In all the years I lived here, I never once took that beauty for granted.
My breath would catch on a daily basis--coming around the curve of a bend and seeing an incredible sunset, or at the appearance of a rainbow. Even when driving in the pitch black that made me wonder if my headlights were working.
It was incredible to spend this day with our friends (and look at Dave's amazing red beard! Swoon..). There was so much laughter and happiness--a perfect way to start a New Year.