In nature, all of the stress brought about by the often too-fast pace of our modern lifestyles melts away and we become one with the landscape. We slowly forget all of the obligations we seem to constantly place upon ourselves and remember how to feel joy in its purest form, suddenly becoming a part of something so beautiful and complex that we couldn’t possibly doubt our own design.

There’s still time to squeeze in a few a good hikes before the snow starts to dust the mountains. And if you’re searching for inspiration, look no further than the Washington Trails Association website (wta.org). In addition to detailed hike descriptions, maps and guides to help you pick the perfect hike, the website allows members to post trip reports detailing current trail conditions and recounting their experiences on the trail.

Aside from providing valuable hiking information on its website, WTA hosts work parties around the state to keep our trails in good condition. Trail work isn’t for everyone. But, for those who might enjoy putting a day (or a few days) of manual labor in order to keep our state’s vastly varied landscapes accessible to all, I would highly recommend signing up for a work party with WTA.

Personally, I’ve had an amazing experience participating on WTA’s weeklong Volunteer Vacations program for high school students during the summers. It’s a great way to disconnect from the demands of the modern world while making meeting fellow nature enthusiasts and racking up quite a few community service hours. Details about this can be found at www.wta.org under the tab labeled “Volunteer.”

Kathryn Conley, a member of the 2018-19 Unleashed team, is a 2019 graduate of Davis High School who is now attending Williams College in Massachusetts.