100 Hikes: A Photo Journey Through The Seasons

 

Little by little, one travels far.

-J. R. R. Tolkien

This is a photo essay compiled to accompany my written essay “Nothing To Do But Go“, which is published in the 2024 book Blood Sweat Tears alongside the stories of 25 other women+ outdoor adventurers. A limited number of signed copies by me (and Charlie) are available in my shop

Background: My dog Charlie and I set off in January with the intention to get outside, blissfully unaware of the challenges ahead. Through a pandemic, rain, depression, more rain, and a series of revolving living spaces, people, and jobs we hiked. And hiked. And hiked. The trail remained the one constant in a year of unprecedented, unpredictable, and unsettling change.

Goal: Take 100 hikes in one calendar year.

Intention: Hiking means getting outside for a good long walk wherever and whenever we can. No worries about steps, miles, or elevation. Just enjoying being outside, discovering amazing things.

These photos are organized by seasons. Each includes a brief excerpt from my essay to help give a bit of context.

 Without further ado, please join Charlie and I on our trek through all of those wild spaces near and far.

There is nothing to do but go.

 

WINTER

“The morning’s mist turned to full-on rain and the cold drops on my face broke my reverie.”

 

 

 

SPRING

“I’d put on news podcasts for the drive and half listened to voices whispering about how a new virus sweeping the globe could lead to widespread lockdowns. Brushing off the seriousness of the threat…I drove deeper into the forest, unaware that this would be the last I saw of the free world as we knew it then.”

 

 

 

 

SUMMER

“The few opportunities for typical summer indulgences like wading in cool rivers and lying out in the sun were weighed down by a heavy sense of loss, or perhaps longing…”

 

 

 

 

FALL

“As the leaves fell in a frenzy of gold and crimson, I too was drifting through the days in what felt like a kaleidoscopic spectrum of dizzying change.”

 

 

 

 

WINTER: THE END

“Through fern and fir I wander, navigating roots and mud, watching bald eagles glide above the treetops, all the while whispering thanks for this life and this body.”

 

 

 

“We call upon the mountains, the Cascades and the Olympics, the high green valleys and meadows filled with wild flowers, the snows that never melt,the summits of intense silence, and we ask that they
Teach us, and show us the Way.
We call upon the waters that rim the earth, horizon to horizon, that flow in our rivers and streams, that fall upon our gardens and fields and we ask that they
Teach us, and show us the Way.
We call upon the land which grows our food, the nurturing soil, the fertile fields, the abundant gardens and orchards, and we ask that they
Teach us, and show us the Way.
We call upon the forests, the great trees reaching strongly to the sky with the earth in their roots and the heavens in their branches, the fir and the pine and the cedar, and we ask them to
Teach us, and show us the Way.
We call upon the creatures of the fields and forests and the seas, our brothers and sisters the wolves and deer, the eagle and dove, the great whales and dolphin, the beautiful Orca and salmon who share our Northwest home, and we ask them to
Teach us, and show us the Way.
We call upon all those who have lived on this earth, our ancestors and our friends, who dreamed the best for future generations, and upon whose lives our lives are built, and with thanksgiving, we call upon them to
Teach us, and show us the Way.
And lastly, we call upon all that we hold most sacred, the presence and power of the Great Spirit of love and truth which flows through all the Universe, to be with us to
Teach us, and show us the Way.”

–The full text of the Chinook blessing carved in stone on the path along our last of 100 hikes.

 

 

EPILOGUE

 

 

 

Charlie and I ended up doing 100 hikes each year for 2 more years after this. Though Charlie is now over 15 years old and has slowed down quite a bit, we still venture out regularly to enjoy the trails as often as we can. I have recently taken up painting outdoors, which has been the perfect way for me to immerse myself in nature while sweet old man Charlie takes his well-deserved naps at my feet.

Without Charlie I know I wouldn’t be outside nearly as often. He keeps me company on long trails and even gets me out the door on my worst days. When I struggle to see the point of even getting out of bed he’s there looking at me, head tilted and one ear flopped down above his big brown eyes, demanding that I get up right this instant and take him outside or so help him God…

A good boy through and through.

Watching Charlie trot alongside me, blindly trusting me, following me nearly anywhere I go gives me courage and comfort. This little dog living only for the moment, spectacularly filled with pure glee at the chance to bark at squirrels, zoom in circles around my feet, and take in the smells of the world, all while making it his job to leave no log un-pissed on. Bliss.

I truly believe that had I not had these hikes to hold onto, I would have spiraled back into old self-deprecating habits, caused a lot of personal destruction, and failed to grow in any significant, long-lasting way. Focusing on this goal helped me feel a helluva lot more stable while the chaotic uncertainty of this past year stormed around me, and gave me hope to hold on to as the days just kept coming. Simply existing to survive wasn’t—isn’t—enough.

Yes, that year we were tasked with survival. But survival is insufficient. We are creative, social beings who need enrichment, adventure, connection, love, and hope.

The trail has been the most effective therapy, my greatest teacher, and most beloved way to explore our beautiful world. Having my best friend tag along for hundreds of treks was a blessing, and I am stronger and wiser for the journey we’ve taken together.

So here’s to the trail, and to who we become as we travel along it. Let the path hold us, shelter us, guide us, so that we may live more connected with nature, with each other, and with the deepest parts of ourselves.

Love,

Jenn & Charlie

 

For even more trail photos, nature, and artwork, follow along on Instagram–we’d love to see you!

All images were taken with a Samsung Galaxy S9. Photos and text are subject to copyright and may not be reused without permission.

 

 

 

 

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