By Alana Simler
Exploring, doesn’t it make you feel like a kid. In fact, I did it all the time as a kid. I grew up in Colorado at the base of ‘the bluffs’ in Colorado Springs, which is the only name I ever knew them by. I hiked and discovered every nook, cave and cranny of those hills.
Around fourth grade my grandparents moved to Oregon City, Oregon and we would often visit. There I discovered Mary S. Young Park. Oh man, was I in heaven! Talk about a whole new kind of exploring. I went from dry, rocky and see forever views to a lush rainforest with running water, bridges and keep you hidden foliage. I loved the extreme difference, but I think what fulfilled me most was the adventure of it all.
Whenever I travel or end up somewhere new, I feel this urge to investigate my surroundings. Taking a walk through the neighborhood, hiking the local terrain or even riding a bike around fills that need to see what is around me and what makes up that particular place.
When I first came to Bellingham 19 years ago, one of the first adventures I took was in Whatcom Falls Park. We are incredibly lucky to have a park like this right in Bellingham. My heart connected and I knew I could call this place home. Not long after I met my partner, Loni, who had her own affection for Whatcom Falls Park. In her words, “Those are my childhood stompin’ grounds.” Now as adults we stomp those grounds together!
Knowing how much I love to get outside and explore, Loni came up with the great idea to try Geocaching. In case you haven’t heard of this exciting outdoor treasure hunting game, I will elaborate. Anyone, almost anywhere in the world can take part in seeking out these hidden geocache (containers) located at specified GPS coordinates. There is a website (www.geocaching.com) with more information and all the lists/maps directing you where to go and how to do this. You can even hide a geocache yourself and list it on the website.
These geocaches contain a logbook to record your find. Some of them hold small “treasures” with the general rule being that if you take something from the container you leave something of equal or greater value. There are over one dozen cache types. A couple examples: Puzzle Caches require you to solve a complicated puzzle to reveal the exact coordinates of the cache. Earth Caches are at a special geological location people can visit to learn about a unique feature of the Earth.
We were amazed how many geocaches were located right in our own neighborhood. We ended up finding trails very close to our home that we had never ventured on. My eyes were wide open once again with renewed hunger for discovering hidden gems right under our noses.
This led me to a desire for traversing all our local trails in the area. I did some searching on the internet and found a great list of trails that I printed out. I am systematically checking off one hiking/walking adventure at a time. (www.bellingham.org → things to do → hiking)
As humans we have always been explorers of sorts. Exploring led us to new worlds, the depth of the oceans, and into unknown regions of space. It seems that we have an internal drive to take us to these places. I’m not here to reveal our scientific make-up that stirs this need, but I would like to shed some light on the benefits of going outside and finding your own adventures.
The world becomes a brighter and more magical place if we take the time to appreciate it. Being out on the trails the colors of the earth seem brighter, the smells in the air are sweeter and the sounds of nature unite my being with the planet. Seeing a majestic view or the hidden secrets of a winding trail in front of you elevates your mood. Moving your body on these journeys releases stagnation and stimulates circulation and lymph fluids.
Are you still here? Get out of here! Go exploring and discover your own adventures on this beautiful planet we call home. Maybe I’ll see you out there…