Finding solitude, peace, in chaos

SPU students find haven in the outdoors

Daniel Newman, Sports Editor

A hidden gem in Leavenworth, WA, Colchuck Lake has views that make the steep trek worth it. (Hailey Echan)

Stress, fear and anxiety are all words that permeate the current status of life. We may not know if the COVID-19 pandemic will end soon. We may not know what we want to do with our lives. We may not know how to survive all our responsibilities. When smoke came and covered the Pacific Northwest, we weren’t even sure when we would see the sun rise again. Now, the smoke is clearing, and reminding us that nature is to be appreciated in any way possible, especially in the state of Washington.

Washington is surrounded by water. There are a few beaches in the area, as well as a plentiful amount of lakes and rivers to explore. If you like hiking in the mountains, Washington offers many opportunities there, as little as forty minutes away. Whatever way you choose to get outside, no matter how close or far away, Washington has something for everyone.

Junior Kilee Jones thinks that getting outside is hugely important for mental health.

“I think for students it’s so important to go outside, even if it’s just for like a couple minutes a day. Just to get that fresh air and to clear your mind a little bit, and I think if you have the opportunity to go walking or hiking, you definitely should,” Jones said.

“With everything going on right now, I think it’s just so important to take care of yourself and your mental health, and by getting outdoors, you’re not staying in that dark place.”

Junior Olivia Johnson prefers to get outside by going hiking and taking walks. Johnson’s family has been going on hikes ever since she was little, and she now goes on about five hikes a year.

“I think the more you are in nature, the more you will appreciate it,” Johnson said in a phone call.

One of Johnson’s favorite hikes she’s been on in Washington was on Mount Pilchuck in Verlot, Washington, about 90 minutes away from Seattle. She went sometime in February, so there was still snow on the ground around her.

“It felt like you were on top of the world, I felt like I was in middle earth or something. You’re really away from your regular life,” Johnson said of the hike.

A view from a mountain
Hikers make their way up through the snowy trails of Mount Pilchuck. (Olivia Johnson)

Hiking and being outside makes Johnson feel more at ease and lessens her anxiety. It feels sort of like an escape or a vacation from her problems.

Johnson also enjoyed doing a hike on Rattlesnake Ledge, around 45 minutes away from campus. The hike, at its highest point, reaches around 2000 feet.

“It’s just so cool to be on the edge of such a huge ledge. I love it,” Johnson said.

Though hiking is exciting, not every trip goes as planned. Johnson was once hiking a trail on Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, which was supposed to be a five mile hike. Instead, Johnson and her roommate got lost, and ended up hiking around fifteen miles instead.

Jones prefers local trips in neighborhoods like Queen Anne and Magnolia, as well as along the canal behind Royal Brougham Pavilion. One of her favorite spots is Discovery Park in Magnolia. Jones appreciates that Discovery Park has a mix of both the woods and the beach. In addition to the park, there are eight trails that range from 1.5 to 4.5 miles. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Jones was at Discovery often.

Golden Gardens provides SPU students with views of the water, mountains, and sunsets each night.
(Hailey Echan)

“I went to Discovery all the time and went on walks and hikes to clear my mind and afterwards I just felt so good, and ready to get to work and do my homework,” Jones said.

The Falcon reached out to their followers on Instagram to get an idea of other places where students at Seattle Pacific like to get outside. The responses ranged from local parks and the UW arboretum to further away locations. Other responses included Snoqualmie pass, Lighthouse Park in Mukilteo, as well as Mount Rainier and Dungeness Spit. These last two locations are about two and a half hours away from campus, but Mount Rainier is the highest peak in Washington and the Dungeness Spit combines the beach and the forest on an 11 mile round trip trail.

Students can choose to care for their mental health in many different ways, but Jones and Johnson enjoy getting outside, and encourage others to do so as well.

“It’s hard to be super sad when you’re surrounded by beautiful things,” Johnson said.