As a musician, I’ve always gravitated towards nature as a means of inspiration. Getting out and exploring somewhere entirely new has a unique effect on the soul, and when I decided to leave for the Pacific Northwest, I had no idea what lay in store for me. I went alone, and as cliche as it sounds, it truly changed me. I was left alone, in the wilderness with nothing but my own thoughts, and though it was challenging at times, it overall had a marvelous effect on the mind. I challenged myself in ways i hadn’t thought possible. When you’re on your own, there is nothing to hold you back but yourself, and it is just one foot in front of the other. Here are my 12 days on the road:
Day 1: I left at 4:30 am to get the coast of Oregon before dark. Just outside of Crescent City, I pulled over to check out this old Chevy when I saw this horse’s tail waving in the distance behind it. I whistled and he bolted over to say hello in exchange for a head scratch. A fair trade.
Day 2: On the drive from Gold’s Beach to Portland, I found myself in a completely new landscape. There is something truly special about exploring a new place for the first time. I spotted these two on my drive, pulled over to get some wisdom about what was good in their neck of the woods.
Day 3: My second destination followed a beautiful drive up the coast to Portland. I spent the following day of my trip exploring the Columbia River Gorge. After hiking in for two miles in search of Punch Bowl Falls I began to get discouraged that I had embarked on the wrong trail, then I walked around the bend and this was on the other side.
Day 3 (cont): The trail up Wahkeena Falls was taxing after already hiking all morning but this made it worth it. It looks fake in real life too.
Day 4: I still recall exactly what it felt like to turn the corner as I was driving into Olympic and stumble upon the Hoh River for the first time. That exquisite shade of blue… Next time I visit, I absolutely plan on taking the 17 mile Hoh River trail hike to Glacier Meadows.
Day 5/6: This was one of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done. The trail up to the aptly named, “Lake of the Angels,” was laid out by climbers — and it is brutally steep: five miles straight up. Right before I stumbled into what you’re looking at, was the last climb, and naturally the most grueling. I remember stopping and just sitting on this boulder, trying to summon the motivation to keep going but also feeling like passing out. I received a bit of encouragement from two other hikers making their way down, and when I finally made it over that last ascent and walked into the meadow that overlooks this lake, all the frustration sort of washed away. I had the whole place to myself and I’ll never forget what quiet sounded like up there.
Day 7: The universe is constantly in motion. You can’t step in the same river twice.
Day 7 (cont): The first night I camped in Mt. Rainer was followed by one of those days where nothing really works out the way you planned. It was foggy as hell, sites were closed, and I was rushing to beat the night to set up. I finally made my way to the only campground that was open and stumbled upon a site where someone had left a giant pile of firewood. Having run out myself, it made my night. From there, the fog cleared and the stars made an appearance. I sat by the fire and played for hours. It was a lovely little reminder that things don’t always work out the way we want them to, but you’ll always get what you need.
Day 8: If you want happiness, look no further than the wild. Nothing is out of place here, or unnecessary. It’s total balance. If everything in nature has a purpose, why should humans be any different? Find that something that fulfills you and see it through. don’t let your fears or ego get in your own way. something I have had to remind myself and have been meditating on lately.
Day 8 (cont): The last few days in Rainer felt like a dream. At the bottom of the stairs to the skyline trail there’s a quote by John Muir that reads, “The most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I have ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings.” I’d have to agree with John on this one. I didn’t want to leave this spot.
Day 9: I’d been thinking about my drive back down to the Bay from Portland on Saturday. It doesn’t happen often, but I had such a beautiful reminder of the good that exists in people that morning; and it was just a simple interaction at a gas station. A kind, older woman was working the pump. Noticing all the gear in my car, she asked if I’d been traveling. We had a brief, but very genuine conversation about being on the road and traveling alone. “A bit of soul searching?” she asked; which made me laugh. I walked inside the shop to use the bathroom, and then decided to get some coffee for the road. As I was walking up to the register to pay, she was sweeping the floor and looked at me and said, “It’s on the house, kiddo,” in the most warm, gracious tone. It put the biggest smile on my face as I walked back to my car. I guess it’s the little things. It’s incredible how such a small gesture from a stranger can have such an immense impact. // This photo was taken after hiking up to Comet Falls and Van Trump Park in Rainier one foggy morning.
Day 10: I’d take this road any day. On the way to Glacier Point, I caught this view of Half Dome you don’t always get to see.
Day 10 (cont): This day was one for the books. I hiked 15 miles on 4 hours of sleep, but I’m so glad i made the trek out to finally explore Yosemite National Park before most of the roads closed for the winter. I caught this seldom seen view of Half Dome on the way down from Glacier Point to Nevada Falls.
Day 10 (cont): From 594 feet up, the Merced River looks more like a small creek. It isn’t. (Read in Ron Howard’s voice).
Day 11: Yosemite Valley in autumn is truly something to behold.
Day 12: I woke up in June Lake. after I found out the Tioga Pass was closed due to the wild storm that passed through Yosemite, I took a chance on this crazy dirt road that led to the Lundy Canyon Trailhead. I had no idea this was going to be waiting for me on the other side of the first climb up.
Day 12 (cont): Since the Tioga Pass was closed, I took the 108 to Sonora to get back west. This was such an incredible drive that cuts through giant cliff faces and follows the Stanislaus River. I caught some fall color from the old Dardanelles Bridge that sits directly above it.
I think Muir put it best when he wrote, “The clearest way to the universe is through the forest wilderness.” What I realized most, is that to truly find myself, I had to to first lose myself–what I thought I knew, elements about myself that I hold on to, things seemed particularly important–really were not anything more than what I made them out to be in my head. Stripping away all external factors allowed me to dive into myself honestly, and I think that is the best first step to really discovering who I am and want to be.
About the author
Antrom Kury is a musician and outdoor adventurer. Hugely inspired by nature and spirituality, he translates his learnings from escapades in nature through his music. He describes the full circle experience as a seamless transition between the spiritual and physical, where his experiences manifest themselves in his songwriting.