ジェフ・キッシュのHIKER LIFE with PNT | #02 パシフィック・ノースウエスト・トレイルでのファミリー・ライフ
Family life near the PNT
Before the trail, I had been living in my van, writing for an outdoor industry website, and bartending a couple of days a week to fund a life of mini-adventures all around the Pacific Northwest. It was on one of those adventures (exploring a secret cave near Mount Adams) that I met Hannah. Our romance sparked immediately.
I tried to keep up the adventure of van life, but I became less feral. She started bringing me in at night, and I spent less and less time on the road.
A few months into our relationship, Hannah dropped me off at the train station in Portland, Oregon, where I boarded the Empire Builder to Glacier National Park to begin my thru-hike of the PNT. In another month, I saw Hannah again.
She had agreed to come to the trail’s halfway point in Oroville, Washington to join me for one of the longest segments of the Pacific Northwest Trail, through the Pasayten Wilderness.
It was our first long backpacking trip together, and in fact, Hannah’s first backpacking trip ever. I was impressed when she arrived in Oroville with all the right gear packed inside a brand new purple ULA Catalyst.
In retrospect, I think hiking this section of the PNT together was a real “make-it-or-break-it” moment for us. Spending 11 days alone together in an extremely remote wilderness, enduring the Pasayten’s schizophrenic weather, and sharing a 1-person tent would be a real test, but in the end our relationship emerged from the wilderness much stronger than it had entered it.
On my last day on the PNT, Hannah picked me up from the western terminus on a remote stretch of the Olympic Coast. After a long drive, we returned to her apartment, and I began to figure out what I would do next. I got a gig at a brewery and applied for a seat on the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail Advisory Council.
We moved into a bigger apartment on the top floor of her building, and settled into the beginning of the rest of our lives together. A few months later, we decided to have a child. A few weeks after that, Hannah was pregnant with our son, Atlas.
Today, our family lives in the forest on the outskirts of Bellingham, Washington. We found our way north from Portland after I accepted my job working for the Pacific Northwest Trail Association. I haven’t been on a long distance hike since 2014, but my life has become even more consumed with trails in the time since.
Atlas is now four and a half years old. He went on his first day hike when he was just four weeks old, his first camping trip (at PCT Days) at six weeks old, and his first overnight backpacking trip at eight weeks old. He’s attended every meeting of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail Advisory Council, and he’s hiked sections of the PNT in all three states that it passes through. The PNT has always been a part of his life.
Hiking with a young child changes everything. Gone are the days where success is measured in miles. Instead, our goals now, as parents, are to hike in such a way that continues to foster the fond connection that Atlas is developing with the natural world.
While our hiking style has changed to suit our son, the slower pace has enriched the experience for us as well. To rediscover the natural world through the eyes of a child is to reignite our own fascination for it. To answer his questions about the surrounding landscape, we ourselves must learn.
We’re fortunate to be living in Bellingham. Forests and mountains are the backdrop for everything that we do. This small city on the northern coast is surrounded by wild places, and the Pacific Northwest Trail connects them all.
One day, when my son is old enough, I’d like to thru-hike the PNT again as a family. By then, the trail should be much different; in part, because of the time I’ve spent working to improve it. It will be great to see the progress first hand, and to show my son what I’ve been working on all throughout his life.
In the meantime, our family explores the local sections of the trail when we can. I keep a map of the PNT on my computer and highlight sections as my son hikes them. To view that collection of tracks is to remember our shared adventures.
When he was two, we hiked three miles a day to complete a loop along the PNT and visit the western terminus.. I showed him the native american petroglyphs at Wedding Rocks, he got to see sea lions and otters, he splashed in tide pools, and he caught his first snake.
When he was three, we went into the heart of Olympic National Park. He hiked five miles a day to complete a 22 mile loop along the High Divide; some of my very favorite miles of the PNT. We foraged wild berries alongside american black bears, and gazed upon the rugged glacier capped peak of Mount Olympus.
When he was four, we spent our time backpacking in the Mount Baker Wilderness. A short drive from Bellingham, Mount Baker’s white domed summit is an ever-present feature of our skyline. This year, we hiked parts of the PNT there to explore Hannegan Peak at the edge of North Cascades National Park and splash in the Chain Lakes.
I’m really enjoying the life we’ve built here, the memories we’re creating, and who my son is growing into in this setting. With his help, we’ve held onto the magic of the forest, and with ours, he’s developing a reverence for it. All this started with a hike. The PNT brought us to Bellingham, and it has been intertwined with our lives ever since, shaping us as I work to shape it.
ジェフ・キッシュのHIKER LIFE with PNT | #01 パシフィック・ノースウエスト・トレイルという僕の仕事
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