When I was 10 years old, my family got our first taste of hiking. It was at the beginning of our “let’s-go-out-west-and-indulge-our-travel-bug” phase where my family of 10 took extensive trips to explore the west 3 summers in a row.
We drove out to Seattle from Detroit in 1999 taking our first big van trip to visit family. This trip included camping only (fun!) and fast food sparingly (yikes!) for 3 weeks. To a 10 year old kid, being crammed in a van for countless hours each day only to get out at various parks and landmarks didn’t seem like the greatest of vacations. From Detroit, we stopped in Minneapolis and then camped in the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. When we arrived in the Seattle area, my cousin, who was working at Microsoft at the time, let us stay at her apartment and invited us to visit the Microsoft campus for the day while we were there. We visited the Puget Sound, drove up to Olympic National Forest, and even saw a park ranger lick a banana slug.
We were a camping family, taking trips to upper Michigan every year and then let’s not forget the whole week and a half of camping across the Dakotas and Montana on our way to Seattle. But we hadn’t hiked all that much. So when our cousin invited us to climb Mt. Si with her, we were all pretty excited to be climbing our first mountain. We had started the hike in the evening so as the sun was setting as we started. The faster group was able to make it up to the top safely. I had gotten to the halfway point when it got too dark never making it to the top that night.
Since then hiking became a big part of my family’s life, as well as my own, after that trip west. I have hiked mountains in Colorado, Sweden and Norway since my first try on Mt. Si. It’s been my way to connect with nature, not just by sleeping at a campground or by viewing it from a distance, but by actively engaging in it. Most importantly, hiking Mt. Si is the experience that has brought me back to the Seattle area to live. It has shaped my life immeasurably as I find myself needing to be in places where these types of experiences in nature are just mere hours or even minutes away. That’s why I knew I wanted to work with the Greenway Trust. They are helping preserve the landscape that made an impact on me when I was young. Interning for the Greenway Trust now only fuels this desire to connect with the Greenway landscape. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I will be returning to Mt. Si to come full circle and climb the mountain in the Greenway that shaped the course of my life.
Noah Pylvainen is the new Communications and Events Associate at the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. He will be sharing his experiences in the coming year about his adventures discovering the Greenway landscape.