Burnt Lake, Mount Hood, Oregon

[Today we have a guest post by Connie Bankus. Connie is a philosophotographer (a word I made up myself!) who lives in Oregon with her husband and a million animals and mountains. You can check out more of her work at awanderingsoul.com.]

A little over a year ago my husband and I moved to Oregon. We packed up everything we owned, dodged tornadoes, and slept in tiny motels in Montana. We drove four days till we arrived at our new home.

We have hiked nearly every single weekend–sometimes two to three hikes in a weekend. We have started out with day hikes, and when we can afford it we plan on buying camping supplies and joining the Mazamas. My ultimate goal is to do the Pacific Crest Trail and to climb the mountains around here.

Like every other new arrival to Oregon, we learned we had never experienced elevation before. We shamefully bowed our heads as seventy-year-olds blew past us on the trail. After a year here we got in much better shape and have learned a couple handy tips like bringing enough water and carrying a pack that is balanced and doesn’t hurt your back. We learned about buying quality hiking boots and lacing them properly. We learned that 1.5 miles may sound short but it can come with a 3000-foot elevation climb that will kick you in the butt. We learned that even if it’s listed in a book we bought at Barnes & Noble it can still be out in the middle of nowhere and we had better come prepared. We learned that we have to earn the beautiful view and some of the best are at the end of an arduous trail.

I think the most important lesson hiking can give is that we are all guests in nature and need to extend it the same courtesy we would if we were staying at a friend’s house. We stay on the trail, preventing the damage to delicate ecosystems or causing erosion problems. We pick up trash when we can and carry out what we carry in. We pick up after our dogs and photograph flowers instead of picking them.

Here are some photos from Burnt Lake in the Mount Hood National Forest. It is a 6.8 mile round-trip hike with a 1500-foot elevation climb. More details about it can be found in 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington by William L Sullivan. I just recently purchased a Nikon D7000 and a fancy Gitzo tripod so I could capture some of the incredible views I get to see. I love it here in Oregon and am so grateful I get to be part of this.