An Antidote to Anxiety

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Last week I was feeling a bit anxious for a couple different reasons. And even though it’s never a good idea, I skipped my regular yoga class, which added to my sense of being off kilter. By Thursday I was counting down to the weekend, because Joe and I had plans for something that always eases my mind no matter what life is dishing out…

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Time in nature.

We’ve been planning to do a hike in the Columbia River Gorge since last spring, when I read about some amazing wildflower trails there. Spring and summer whipped by though, and while we did get outside a lot, we never made it to the Gorge. So last Saturday we rented a car, packed a couple wraps, a couple pears and a bag of trail mix and headed out for the day.

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We completely lucked out with the weather. The hike we did is a bit farther than Multnomah Falls, which is the most popular site in the area. (We hiked there when we first moved to Portland and it’s beautiful, but really crowded.) Joe did some research and found great reviews for Elowah Falls, which is about a 2 hour drive from Portland. The trail splits so you can veer off to see another waterfall first (Upper McCord Creek Falls), then hike back for the main event.

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One thing I’ve learned about hiking with Joe is there is always going to be a point when he is standing really close to the edge of a cliff/rushing body of water/something else that’s really steep and I am asking him to please just not get so close. I always imagine him accidentally slipping and it terrifies me. (I guess this is the part of our ‘nature time’ that isn’t actually that great for anxiety…oops.) I know he’s careful, but I can’t help but feel panicked when he’s inches from some massive drop!

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He suggested having our picnic on that flat rock above this waterfall…

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I said I wasn’t quite ready for lunch yet.

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We passed a few hikers along the trail and there were a lot of people at the main waterfall, but for most of the afternoon it was just us and the forest…

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though Joe did make friends with this guy.

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We didn’t look at any photos of Elowah Falls online beforehand, and were surprised that the trail leading to it kept descending instead of going up. The location was so cool, with a massive rock formation that created a kind of enclosed semi-circle with the fall rushing off of it.

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Not a bad view for a picnic!

The way the water hit the rocks below looked to me like flashes of lightning.

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I loved the juxtaposition on this trail of the thick cedars, rock, and the Columbia in the background.

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We stood and watched the boats cruising along the river…

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and ended the day with a drink at Thunder Island Brewing in the nearby town of Cascade Locks.

On Sunday, I got up early and made it to a morning yoga class. Body/brain re-set successful.

What do you guys do when you’re feeling anxious? Nature is awesome, but it’s not always possible to get out for a full day of hiking. Aside from yoga, I go for fast walks in the neighbourhood, try to remember to deep breathe, and/or plan a skype session with a close friend. I find that reaching out for support is always a good call.

Joe and I are off camping this weekend for our two-year anniversary. :) I’m looking forward to relaxing by a campfire and taking it slow.

See you next week, everyone!

~C.

p.s. Directions to Elowah Falls and our trip to Bagby Hot Springs

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4 responses

  1. My favorite quick fix is a walk up Mt. Tabor. It doesn’t take long, especially if you park halfway up, but you get a few endorphins from the climb as well as a taste of serenity from the surroundings.

  2. What a great hike – you got some lovely photos, and I can feel even though the pictures how nature helps make me step back from whatever anxiousness I may have now to remind me of the timelessness around me and not to get caught up with what we humans do to each other and ourselves!

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