Soul Breathing

Have you ever inhaled deeply -- at the soul level? Ever felt the fresh air of life fill your psyche, rather than just your lungs?

I have. Many times. I've breathed in rejuvenating energy, inhaling fully so it reaches all the way to the core of my being. And there's one ingredient I've found that's essential to me being able to do this: nature. Specifically the mountains, and to a slightly lesser extent the coast.

None of that surprises regular readers of this blog, I know. But I'm always amazed at how dramatically a day in the mountains affects me. They say that the physical act of deep breathing expels impurities and has a cleansing effect on the body. A day in the outdoors has a similar effect on my soul, purging stress, relaxing the heart, and restoring perspective.

I recently took another such exploratory jaunt into the Tillamook State Forest in Oregon's Coast Range, which is my usual destination since it's so close to home (about 40 minute's drive from my front door). The Coast Range isn't as high and dramatic as the Cascades on the other side of town, but the TSF is a great day-trip destination because of a vast network of 4WD trails and logging roads that can get you miles and miles up into the rough country... and away from city life hubbub.

Each time I go up there I scout out a different location. This time my day trip was a combo 4WD Scout exploration followed by a riverside hike. My 1974 IH Scout is an absolute blast on these backcountry trails. No matter how muddy, slippery, or steep the incline is I can get it pretty much anywhere I want to go. At the end of my exploring I churned up a long, steep gravel incline and ended up at a dead end on the point of a small ridge. I was basically on a "peninsula" about 1,600 feet up, with stunning views surrounding me wherever I turned. The slide show below is a sequence of photos I took as I turned a full 360 degrees clockwise:

I pulled out my camp chair and sat facing King's Mountain, one of the TSF's higher peaks at almost 3,500 feet. There's a fairly challenging hiking trail that goes to the top of King's Mountain which I plan to hike sometime this summer. For now, I was content with a chair, a thermal mug of fresh Peet's coffee, lunch, and a Tom Clancy novel.

To top the day off, I came back down out of the highlands to hike a 3-mile round trip along the Wilson River. My destination/turnaround point was Wilson Falls, a small but pretty waterfall that splashes across the trail itself:

Notice the downed trees. There was actually a ton of storm damage below the 1,000 foot level, from last winter's snow & ice:

Still, it's a beautiful hike even with the reminders of nature's power scattered all around you. And my soul is rejuvenated... until next time!


Jerry Casper said...

The mountains and coast are both reasons we haven't moved to a climate that has less than five months of rain and darkenss. The mountains are one of the few places you can truly inhale deeply. Thanks for sharing the photos.

With that said, I wouldn't have picked you as a Clancy fan. Although Hunt for Red October is one of my favorite books (the movie was horrible), I haven't read one of his books in several years.

Lately, I've been reading a lot of Louis L'Amour and even have Kari-Ann hooked on them. :-D

Matt Guerino said...

I thought the film was... passable. But I will say Harrison Ford was a better Jack Ryan in Patriot Games IMO than Alec Baldwin was in Red October - don't know how in the world Baldwin got that role!

I read some L'Amour novels occasionally too. Clancy and L'Amour are similar in that they're sort of "reading candy." While I usually go for much more substantive fare, I do like good adventure stories. And there are times when I need something purely entertaining, such as on vacations or days off like this one. Reading a Clancy novel, which I typically get through in a day or two, is in the same category as watching a movie in my mind - brainless and fun!

And I wouldn't mess with Kari-Ann if she had a 10 gallon hat and a six shooter... :)

Pat M. said...

Your little jaunt reminds me that I need to get out more and enjoy my surroundings - and maybe even take a few photographs.

Jerry Casper said...

Harrison Ford was far better than Alec Baldwin. They definitely had the wrong person casting roles when they chose Alec, but in Patriot Games they chose William Dafoe for Clark and that didn't seem to be a good fit either. My main issue with Red October is that it felt like a watercolor version of the book. It would have been a hard movie to make, but they left out too many key elements that provided a richness in the book.

What draws me to the L'Amour books - you're right, they're reading candy - is that many of the characters stand up for what's right even at significant cost to themselves. He often writes of incredible acts of bravery and courage by men and women who protect the innocent and do what is right no matter what the cost.

As for Kari-Ann, she's a better shot than I am. :-)

On a different note, we're currently reading The Reason for God: Belief in God in an Age of Skepticism and have found it thought provoking. I don't necessarily agree with everything he writes - including his thoughts on evolution - but have enjoyed how he answers some difficult questions that people have brought up with me. If you haven't read it, I'll lend you my copy when we're done.

brian c. berry said...

Bro. Next time in your lovely state we need to connect and then I want to join you here. This looks sweet. One sucky part of living in ONE season San Diego is I miss the rain, the cold, and THE TREES. We have mountains. But I love driving North just to experience a REAL forrest again. My soul agrees with this post and I long for spaces like this... on the ocean and in the mountains.

Matt Guerino said...

ANY TIME Brian! If you're ever up this way you guys have an open invitation to our place. And if time permits I can make sure a jaunt to the high country happens too!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin