macleay park

Forest Wonderland

It’s all too easy to hunker down this time of year—simply curl up under a cheap blanket, with a good book and some furry friends.

Working out becomes a lot harder in the colder months. You have to shrug off the incessant darkness, squeeze your Christmas cookie ass into your workout clothes, and muster up some excitement to get moving.

This is a good time to make the effort. Because if anything is going to uplift you during the winter, it’s exercise.

Diversifying your routine and keeping an open mind are important. The same thing that worked for you in the summer won’t work for you now, because your body changes with the seasons.

I’ve switched to morning Yoga during the week to maintain my practice, because getting off work to greet a pitch black world was sucking the life out of me. No, I don’t bounce out of bed ready to seize the day. But after a few minutes on my mat, I’m happy to be there.

Also important is not to disconnect from nature. Rather than writing off Mother Nature, this is a lovely time to embrace her ill-tempered ways. I’m not saying you should do Yoga outside in the snow, but a long walk or hike are great ways to get away from stuffy, dry buildings and enjoy some fresh (okay…frigid) air.

Lately I’ve been making it a point to go hiking—even when it’s cold and wet, when leaving the house is the last thing I want to do. We had 17 straight days of rain in Portland earlier this month.

It was brutal and I was starting to crack, questioning my existence and growing emotional over insignificant things. You know, the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) works.

After the rain calmed down, I took a little field trip up to Forest Park. I often feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland when I wander around the trails here, like I don’t belong in such a magical place.

I hadn’t been up to my usual stomping grounds in a while, because work and rain got in the way. The never-ending rain had transformed the trails since my last time up there. I got pretty camera happy, like a damn tourist. The beauty of that—I was able to mix two of my favorite things together. Exercise and creativity.

Moss invaded every branch, turning the forest into a world carpeted with AstroTurf…

lower macleay hiking

Speaking of Alice in Wonderland, this tree kind of reminded me of Caterpillar…

portland hiking

The Queen of Hearts…yeah, she’d live here at the Stone House

stone house graffiti

Too bad the moody trees destroyed the East Wing a bit…

tree damage stone house

In fact, it’s one mood swing after another with Mother Nature. Trees crashing everywhere…

winter hiking in portland

Becoming wet canvases for leafy masterpieces…

pacific northwest winter

What was once Balch Creek is now a rambunctious river…

balch creek

… a damn cold river you don’t want to slip into.

So yeah, it’s a bit precarious on the disintegrating trails right now, with waterfalls sprouting up where they’re not supposed to be and chunks of the path eagerly becoming one with the “creek.”

But it feels so good out there. I feel renewed instead of sluggish, in tune with nature instead of fighting against it.

If you need some motivation to get moving, don’t wait for New Year’s resolutions or ideal weather. Bundle up and go see what nature’s been up to.

26 thoughts on “Forest Wonderland

  1. Those are wonderful pictures. Looks like you have some gorgeous places to hike.

    It’s definitely been strange weather for everyone. New Hampshire–where I was for Christmas–had a temp of 66 degrees Christmas Eve day. It was wonderful to go on a long walk and not even need a coat!

    1. No matter how wrapped up I get in life, every time I hike or run in Forest Park, I’m awestruck. We are very lucky to have it so close to us!

      Strange weather, for sure! Saw snow for my first time here on Sunday. I can appreciate it now that I don’t have it all winter. (Well, fingers crossed that we won’t have it all winter with this freaky weather.)

  2. I am not fond of walking in the wet and cold but you make those conditions look inviting. 🙂 Love the caterpillar like log. The Stone House looks a bit creepy so definitely fine for the Queen of Hearts; she scared me when I was little. So did the Cheshire Cat. Glad you are feeling more bouncy. 😉

    1. Not fond of walking in the wet and cold? Gallivanta, you would not like it here! 🙂

      The Stone House is creepy, but it’s a popular resting spot on the trail. I feel like any building that has been gutted kind of looks like a haunted house. When there isn’t tree damage, there are usually kids (and adults) climbing all over it, so that lightens the mood.

  3. WordPress is ridiculous. For some reason it keeps removing you from the list of blogs I follow!

    Your trails are so beautiful! You know, I actually PREFER exercising when it’s cold, because I don’t like to “work up a sweat”, in the very literal sense of the expression. I’d prefer to be freezing than burning hot, haha.

    1. That’s not cool, WordPress! 😦

      Yes, we are super lucky to live so close to all of this amazing nature! I typically prefer exercising when it’s cold as well, because I get hot very quickly. After I run, my face is always bright red and it looks like I’m going to pass out.

      On the other hand, I love to sweat! So I have been missing that feeling.

  4. I love those furry trees. I’ve been doing the same kind of thing around here lately – wandering through the wet woods and even saw some furry trees but yours are much furrier. And now I’m loving the word furry. 🙂 Hope you have a happy wonderland new year!

  5. Yes! Thank you! Thank you for the reminder that we must keep caring for ourselves and our bodies. The older I get, the more I realize that the comfort of “shutting down” is really no comfort at all in the long run. Beautiful analogy and beautiful pics!

  6. I find it so hard to stay indoors, Britt. I love the fact that I’m living in the tropics now and we don’t really have a winter anymore. Sometimes I miss that ‘mist when I exhale’ experience, but not too often luckily. Happy New Year my darling! xxxxx

    1. I’d be rolling around outside all the time if I lived where you live, Dianne! Unless I’d be rolling around with exotic critters, in which case I should probably refrain. I would miss the misty exhale. Never had it in Southern California, so that’s always been a magical thing for me.

      Happy New Year, sweetness! xoxox

  7. Excellent Britt, what a great bit of forest you have there – and you have it pretty much to yourselves at this time. There’s nothing quite like taking on the elements to shake out mind and body.

    1. I took these on a weekday when I was off for my birthday, but the weekends are still very busy on the trails. Not summer busy, but these Portlanders like to get out there. Can’t blame us…we have an epic backyard!

  8. I choose morning either a walk, then weights or a yoga session, each day Im choosing something. It is warm here but I find the more I don’t feel like walking or moving thats the day I need it the most. I felt tired when I did an afternoon session so have worked out mornings are better for me Britt.

    Loving the mossy walk too.

    1. I try to stay active every day. Even a little physical movement goes a long way. I was never a morning workout person before, but I really am enjoying it. Definitely helps you feel energized all day!

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