Stronger than the sagebrush

Over Labor Day weekend, I followed the tug of my country heart and went to visit Eastern Washington. While I was there, I decided to go on a hike to satisfy my desire to experience the Washington desert that was so vastly different than the evergreen-patterned and rain-dampened region that’s become my home over the past two years. So, onward to the Ancient Lakes trailhead I went.

I marveled at the beauty of the harsh, arid, valley surrounded by cliffs covered in red rocks and dry desert flowers. While it was different than anything I’d ever experienced — neither in my time living in Washington nor my Minnesota upbringing — something about what I saw before me made my Midwest soul feel at home.

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Here’s why you should love the valleys

My legs are still sore from the hike I took to Poo Poo Point (teehee) on Saturday. But every slightly painful step I take today reminds me that these legs carried me all the way through the longest hike I’ve done to date. And that’s pretty incredible.

To be honest, I was terrified to do this hike. The people I was with had all lived in Washington longer than I, and I understood more time in the Northwest to equate to more strength, more endurance…and fewer breaks!

In the days leading up to Saturday, I texted a friend and asked for tips. How do I make up excuses to stop and catch my breath without making it seem like I can’t handle the challenge? She gave me some great ideas (re-tie your boot, stop to take pictures, take your sweatshirt off and put it in your bag, etc.), but I think what I was really asking was: how do I take care of myself while hiding my vulnerability and inexperience? How do I make sure the only thing I let them see is strength?

I was missing the point.

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