Mountain tackling was on the cards. The pick of the deck for us was Hamilton Mountain in Beacon Rock State Park. Located near Vancouver, Washington State, this classic Gorge hike is a nine-mile loop passes Hardy and Rodney Falls, and then rolls up around sheer cliffs to amazing views.
Guiding our way up the mountain was spots of wildflowers strung out along the pathway, with pit stops at the Pool of Winds, a waterfall where you can stand beside it and feel it spray on your face.
From above, line after line after line of trees zig zag. like a million jagged heartbeats stretching out to the horizon. Stitch upon stitch in all the shades - teal to hunter to viridian - weaving a 5,100 acre palace together. Near the summit, we discovered a little opening. When I climbed down the little pathway, a curve and a little ledge at the end greeted me. It took me be surprise, as suddenly I was looking out my own secret gate to the Columbia, eyes scanning to an 1,800 feet drop below. Lungs expanding, head spinning, the wind picking up speed and grabbing my hair, like it wanted to pull me closer, and I edged back carefully and back up to the rocky embankment. Closer to the top, the ground transformed, so full of moisture, we bounced as we strolled. At the summit, neighbouring Beacon Rock pokes out above the mighty Colombia River, and in the distance, Mount Hood hovers over all. Washington State, a trail hunter's paradise.
During my year at the Clifton Castle (the best share house in Newcastle City), I roomed with three Western Washington alumni, who all lived in Bellingham, so I was keen to check out this town I had heard so much about. It did not disappoint. The best introduction to a town you could have.
Within the first 10 minutes of being in the town, we heard cheers and yells coming from up the street, when our friend, Jeanie yelled out 'Yes!!! It's the Naked Bike Ride!'.
Two hundred naked and semi-clad people started rolling down the street past us to the cheers of everyone in the pubs and sidewalks.
It doesn't need to be said, but Bellingham, you will be hard to beat.
On my last night in America, while throwing darts in a tiny pub in Bellingham, I ended up meeting this man called Nick who is a Media and Marketing Advisor for Bear Trek and Wild Life Media, which features one of the world’s leading bear experts and conservation leaders. Fate is funny, isn't it!
His girlfriend, Sara, is an artist. They make these amazing murals called ArtQuakes. In anticipation of the Great Quake, they have turned a safety message into a work of art. These murals show people where to head in the event of an emergency. Sara also ended up telling me about a book specialising in botanical dyes. Perfect!
The next day, as Hannah and I said our goodbyes until our European adventures next year, Hannah said to me ‘write with absolute honesty and heart, Kate. Tell EVERYTHING.’ Both of us over the years have talked about our love for adventure, but also shared the challenges that come with a heart and soul that always wants to wander and the realities of a life on the road or in remote locations. Couldn't think of a better person to see me off for this next stage.
It was then on to the other Vancouver to stay with my honorary Canadian familia!
Glen, Karissa and Lola (seriously the cutest little doggy in the world) arrived in Canada about a month before I did, so I was their first visitor. We went out for dinners and lunches, overlooking the Bay and watching the sunset at what will be my last look at the ocean for awhile. I snuck in some last-minute shopping before adventuring.
When we were kids, Glen and I's family spent nearly every day together, so he has always felt like a little brother. As life happens, it's been a long, long time since we have hung out though, so it was really special to spend some time chilling out together as adults that wasn't hurried hellos at a birthday party or BBQ. Thanks Glen & Karissa!
Pre-adventure adventures have been filled with good people and good signs!
Thank you to everyone who invited me into their hearts and their homes in the lead-up and through the USA and Vancouver. I appreciated and treasured every moment with you all xxx
It was the best prep I could have for this next stage. Where the Adventure Begins. Part I: Chilko...