2017 - A Year in Review

At the beginning of 2017, I attended a "New Year Desire Map" Workshop. I'm no stranger to workshops and retreats that focus on personal development, but this one gave me a new perspective on setting goals and intentions.  Instead of focusing on the things we wanted to achieve, accomplish, or attain - our facilitator asked us to first think about how we wanted those things to make us feel. What is at the core of those goals and desires? How will achieving this goal make us feel? Excited? Empowered? Independent? 
Once we gained clarity on that, we dove into our core feelings which paved the way for intention setting. (*This was a 2-day workshop so there is more to it than that but you get the gist right?) 

This was going to be a big year of transition and personal development. I was just a few weeks away from giving my workplace an exit notice and I was excited but anxious. Ready yet feeling unprepared. I was in a tug of war with mind and spirit, and who was winning changed at every moment. I pushed that baggage out of my mind for the workshop and wrote down how I wanted to feel and my intentions for the new year. These were my conclusions.

"I want to feel brave, committed, aligned, impactful and confident."

2017 Intentions

  • I will believe in myself as a creative human. 
  • I will commit to improving my skills in writing and photography. 
  • I will drop comparison and substitute support and encouragement. 
  • I will believe that abundance is TRUTH and that there is room for one more. 
  • I will kick fear out of the driver's seat. 
  • I will manifest and create the vision of my life I've had for years. 
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This year I felt the weight of my privilege, exacerbated by the fact that I was able to quit my job and go on a personal quest for meaningful work.  Not having a full time job (which I had previously latched on to as 'my purpose') to go to every day played with my ego. Amend that- it's still playing with my ego, but I'm consciously working on it. I feel like I'm on the right track but I constantly have to check my inner saboteurs. They like to tell me I'm not good enough, that I will never make enough money freelancing, that I should probably go back to a steady 8-5......
Honestly, that has been the biggest challenge of the year wasn't quitting my job.

The biggest challenge was believing in myself.

Photo By Nick Lake 

Photo By Nick Lake 

Even in moments of self-doubt, I am reminded that there is so much to be grateful for, especially as I reflect on the friendships, community and experiences the last year has given me. 


TRAVEL: The Universe willing, travel will always be a significant part of the year.

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2017 Travel Itenerary

February: Cannon Beach, OR, girls winter road trip
March: Monterey, CA, to celebrate my mom's birthday@ | Olympic Peninsula, another girl's trip (this was definitely the year of building strong female friendships!) | Oahu, HI, to warm up, visit friends & swim with sharks
May: Italy, Belgium & London
June: France, my best friend flew over from Seattle and we journeyed through Paris, Dijon, Annecy and Aix-En-Provence. 
July: Wallowa, Oregon, one of my favorite backpacking trips to date | Salt Lake City + Bonneville Flats Utah, for Outdoor Retailer
August: Orcas Island, San Juan Islands for Doe Bay Fest | Lake Tahoe, CA for our annual family vacation
September: Lake Tahoe, CA  | Tofino, BC
November: Yosemite, CA for my grandmother's 97th birthday! | Sunshine Coast, BC | Vancouver, BC
December: Ventura, CA, for a beachy Christmas with family

2 months in Europe was the highlight of my year. I got to travel with all of my favorite people (family, husband, and best friend) while making new friendships with host families and locals. There are so many places and cultures I'm keen to visit and learn about. Next up? New Zealand to kick off 2018!  

A few of my favorite photos from Europe. 

And back home in Seattle....

  • I got a coach. 
    Shane Eubank
     is my work/life coach and we check in and chat bi-weekly. He has challenged me to define and live by my values, helps hold me accountable, quiet my sabetours and inspires me to dream BIG.  
  • I have a workspace that isn't my kitchen table.
    Freelancing/working from home can feel ultra isolating and lonely. Thankfully I have enough friends that are also freelancers and a few of them decided that working together is way better than working separately. They started a co-working space called Treefort and it's a motivating and supportive space and community to go to every week. 
  • I joined the She Explores team.
    She Explores is a website and podcast for "Inquisitive women in the outdoors, on the road, and besides." The founder Gale has built and nurtured an incredible community of women from all parts of the Globe and I'm thrilled to be assisting with content. 
  • I focused in on what I REALLY want to do with photography.
    I explored with types of photography but found myself right back where (and why) I started. My inspiration always points back to outdoor spaces and people. Recently, I've been drawn to women entrepreneurs and creatives. I want to shine a light on their gifts and promote their talents. I'm also setting an intention to begin photographing retreats, specifically women retreats and those centered around personal development and health and wellness (like, a yoga retreat in Norway?! #manifesting). 

As the year comes to an end, I'm reflecting on how I want to feel in 2018, and what intentions will rise from those feelings. How do YOU want to feel in 2018? Is there a goal or intention you're looking to accomplish? 

Checking In: Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut, Mt. Tahoma Trails Association

Staying at Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut is the closest I've come to winter camping. And really, I only compare it to camping because I slept on the floor and I had to hike in to get there. Otherwise, this hut provides all the luxuries that camping doesn't; an outhouse, a kitchen, and four walls to keep the cold out.

It's simple, out of cell reception, and a perfect weekend getaway from the city. 

Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut and Mt. Rainer in the distance.

Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut and Mt. Rainer in the distance.

Getting to theTrailhead:
2.5 hour drive to the town of Elbe from Seattle.  

From Elbe, drive east on SR 706 towards Ashofrd for about 8 miles.  Turn right just before the Baptist Church at DNR Road 1. 

Road 1 leads straight to the Sno-Parks for the south district of Mount Tahoma Trails Association. Proceed six miles from 706 following the Sno-Park signs to the Upper Sno-Park. 

Note: A Washington State Sno-Parks permit is needed in the winter (November 1 to April 30). You can purchase a $40 annual non-motorized sno-park permit which is good for the year, or a daily $20 sno-park permit. The daily permit can only be used with a WA State Discover Pass. You can buy a pass at Whittaker Mountaineering in Ashford or online here.

The Hike to the Hut: 
The trek is approximately 4 miles long with 2,400 feet of elevation gain.  It's a consistent climb almost the entire way and I definitely found myself winded at various points.

It was uncharacteristically warm and sunny so we shred layers within the first mile. I welcomed the sunshine, even though I was blinded because somehow all my sunglasses disappeared after summer? 

We hit a large patch of dirt half way on the trail, so we had to remove our snowshoes and skis. The rest of the way up was smooth although the combination of warmer days and cooler nights made the trail icy at points. 

Be sure to check the road and trail conditions on the Mount Tahoma Trails Association website or their twitter feed for the most recent updates.

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About the Hut:
After 4 miles of hiking and a few hours daydreaming about my sandwich, we arrived at the hut. It's maintained by the Mount Tahoma Trails Association volunteers and open to the public from 7am-7pm. Reservations and a whopping $15 are required to stay the night. Our party rented out the entire space (which sleeps 14), so we enjoyed the hut to ourselves.

There is a spacious kitchen stocked with utensils, cookware, and a four burner range-top so bring something to cook for dinner. The living room includes huge couches that are perfect for afternoon naps, and an absurd amount of games and puzzles in case you need to be pre-occupied (remember, no cell service!) A propane fireplace keeps the space perpetually warm and it's also used to melt snow for water. 

Upstairs are a few bunk beds but our group opted to take the provided sleeping pads and pile them into the open room for a giant slumber party. It reminded me of our summer camp trip to the Salt Flats, except we had the comfort of the cabin and I wasn't worried about desert bugs.  One downside is that the bathrooms are located outside the cabin, but it's a small price to pay and at least it's stocked with toilet paper and hand sanitizer! 

Photo by Nick Lake

Photo by Nick Lake

What to Bring: 

  • Sleeping bag
  • Food
  • Warm Clothing
    • Wool socks & slippers!
  • Headlamp 
  • Bluetooth speaker for tunes
  • Hand & feet warmers
  • Camera & tripod
  • Journal
  • A good book

The Verdict: If you're a fair weather camper like me, Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut is a great way to get outside for an overnighter in the winter.  It's priced really low (regardless if you're sleeping on the floor) and is a doable weekend trip. Reservations go fast but there are still a few weekdays available in January and February. Gather a few adventurous friends and book a stay! 

Clear skies give way for great astrophotography! 

Clear skies give way for great astrophotography!