I was sick from Heart Disease; really sick. I had tried everything from natural remedies to prescriptions medications, psychologists, and even meditation. Nothing seemed to pull me from the darkness of my disease, including the accompanying PTSD. I was lost. I was no longer the person I used to be, and struggled to define the person I wanted to become. I looked to God for answers, and was eventually led back to the outdoors.
It was scary, being out in the middle of nowhere without cell phone reception or nearby hospitals. It was truly just me, my beating heart and the unknown trail ahead. I wanted to experience beauty, because for so long, I was unable to be a part of it. I was severely struggling with PTSD and arrhythmias when I ventured out on my first hike since my diagnosis and surgeries. I didn’t trust my body could get to the end of the hike, and doing it alone was even more frightening. However, I did it. I found strength in every pounding heartbeat, because I knew it was still beating for a reason. Every trail, every step was bringing me closer to health. I learned to find stillness in the quiet again. I learned that my beating heart meant that I was alive to experience the summit, or waterfall at the end of the trail. Each step was bringing me closer to something I had missed out on during my illness.
Now, one place that held so many memories is gone. This place which helped give me this second chance to live, no longer holds life. The forests are destroyed, wildlife killed in flames, and the landscape may never be accessible again. I mourned all day, in tears for something so special to me. These places are more than just outings for the local population; they are living memories and places of healing. This particular place is a huge part of why I am alive today. Each hike made me stronger and capable of a life I didn’t know I could be a part of again.
… In the Columbia River Gorge, I learned to trust my heart again.
… In the Columbia River Gorge, I learned to trust myself again.
… In the Columbia River Gorge, I knew you were the one (That would be you, Dave Burdick)
… In the Columbia River Gorge, I remembered what it felt like to truly live again.
… In the Columbia River Gorge, I was given a second chance at life.
My heart is broken for this place that gave me so much, and I want the opportunity to bring life back to it, just as it did me. When the fire finishes ravaging the land, and the smoke clears, I will be working with the proper outlets to replant, assist with new growth and even rebuild trails. I’m committed to giving back to something that never had to give me anything. These trails, hikes and natural wonders have more life to give, but to do so, we all need to take a stand and help. I want to see a rebirth of this place, giving life to more than it did before. I know it will take decades, but we should never give up on a place that taught us to never give up on ourselves. We need to give back to these wild places.
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy amidst the simple beauty of nature. …I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” – Anne Frank