Running with the Wolves

On January 1st of 2017, I stood outside of a forest, observing, knowing that I would have to enter and trek through at some point. With a timid sense of being, I stepped into the tree-filled abyss. I didn’t know what would come of this journey. Would I be chased by wolves? Or would I chase with them? Would I fall through the ice of the small, no-name ponds and sink? Or would I bravely jump in and swim? 365 days of the unknown. But it didn’t matter what I didn’t know, it didn’t even matter what I knew; all that mattered was what I was going to learn.

2017 was filled with trial and error, accomplishment and joy, standing still, and running as fast as my legs and my soul could take me. Friendships blossomed, and losses doomed. But the phenomenon about 2017 that holds me in awe is that I never once stayed down. I constantly picked myself back up, brushed myself off, and kept attempting to find the elucidation as to why I was lost in this forest of perplexity. There had to be a reason, and finding it would be my way out.

To love oneself. It’s a complex theory; rather difficult to overcome. I went into the forest hating who I was and depending on others to help me find a glimpse of happiness. I was chased by wolves, and I fell through the ice many times and nearly drowned. But at the darkest point in the forest, at the point when I decided to succumb to the wolves, I was blinded by a beam of light through the trees. Just when I was at this lowest point did I realize that I let the forest control me. I let the forest control my emotions, when I would feel sad, or angry, or happy. I let my surroundings dictate me and convince me that I loathe myself. No more. The light that shown through the trees was love. Love for myself and everything that I am. My revelation filled me with the confidence to take control. I was in control of my forest. I knew this was the way out of the woods, and when I heard the wolves coming, I stood tall and I ran with them.

Others can’t fight the demons we have within ourselves. We have to fight our own.

So now, on January 1st of 2018, I stand at the edge of my forest, one step away from the final step out. My wolves, they aren’t vicious anymore, they’re gentle now; loving. With their tails wagging, they wait patiently behind me. I’m expecting to step back into civilization. Maybe onto asphalt, or concrete? Leaving my origin behind, I take the first step out of my fortress of trees. To my surprise my foot hits sand and I pull myself into the hot, dry atmosphere. The forest couldn’t teach me all that I need to learn, it is filled with leniency. The desert, however, is unforgiving. As I stand and stare into the dry, withering, landscape I am in awe and slightly nervous, yet exhilarated to learn the wisdom the desert has to offer. The challenges are just beginning. Life has just begun.

With a smile on my face, I run into the arid beauty.



Second Stop: Colo(rad)o Pt. 2

Family and friends mean the world to me; as I’m sure they do for most. This is what my entire Colorado trip was- family and friends. The second part of my trip led me across the entire southern area of Colorado. On the way, passing through my Grandmas hometown and the places she grew up in, along with my dads, aunt, and uncles hometown and life-stops along the way. I ventured over Wolf Creek pass, which brought tears to my eyes. The entire, extremely thick forest, once miraculous, pass was now complete beetle kill. The once beautiful, lush, green mountains now looked as if large sticks had been put in place of the pines. Heartbreaking, but life.

The drive was diverse, going over mountain passes (both lush and dead), and high plains. I️ am always in awe of the giant windmills that circulate by wind for the making of energy. They’re pretty amazing.

I️ was greeted by my Grandmas basset hound, Louie, and precious mutt dog, LC, when I️ arrived at my Grandparents house a few miles outside of Kit Carson, Colorado. Soon I️ was sitting at the dinner table with my Grandma sipping a cup of green tea, discussing my trip, and catching up on all the new, and old, news. My Grandparents always inspire me with their stories and wisdom. They push me to be wise, patient, positive, and loving, and I️ aspire to be equivalent to my Grandparents in all of these areas.

The next couple of days were spent helping Gram and Gramps out around the farm. Feeding cows, chickens, cats, and dogs are the morning and nightly routines. As well as, all of the tasks throughout the day. I️ love going to my Grandparents and reliving my childhood. Memories are abundant along the fence lines of my grandparents property.

I️ was only able to stay at my grandparents for about a week, I️ had to be back before school began. Leaving the farm and my lovely Gramma and Grampa was so hard. Goodbyes are difficult when you rarely get the opportunity to see the people you miss so badly while you’re away. But I️ plan and hope to go back as soon as I️ can!

My next stop was Colorado Springs, CO, where my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins live. I️ only have one cousin who is near my age, my other cousins are many years older than me. But that never stopped us all from being best friends growing up. We were wild.

My time in Colorado Springs was very memorable. I️ was able to attend a celebration with my Aunt and Uncle at a beautiful country club in Garden of the Gods, where I met the mayor of Colorado Springs along with many other influential people, and listened to them speak. The celebration was a thank you to the committed donors of charities. It was an inspirational experience, to be in a room filled with selfless people who genuinely care about the well being of others. Plus, on a side note, I got to dress up a little. I always enjoy attending an event that allows me, and/or is required of me, to dress nicely. “You’re not allowed to wear jeans in ‘The Club.'”- A quote by my Aunt when she informed me I had to wear a dress or skirt. I got a kick out of “The Club”!

I took a hike around Red Rock Canyon in Co Springs during my visit. It was so amazing to hike in a very wild place, yet just outside of the city. Colorado Springs is a hot-spot for outdoor lovers. Hiking, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, mountain biking, fishing, hunting, trail running, etc. are all common, hobbies to the people of Springs. Colorado in general is big in outdoor adventure, and it has good reason to be; it’s a miraculous state. Red Rock Canyon was ravishing. It was so diverse in wildflowers, shrubs, trees, and grasses, while, at the same time being rocky. Gigantic rock formations towered randomly throughout the area. I hiked to a rim road that was moderately high in elevation, the view from that road was striking. I looked out over the entire Red Rock Canyon, and gazed upon the giants that where the rocks, placed so preciously around the vicinity. Beyond that, I could see the entire city. I couldn’t help myself but imagine how astonishing it would be to stand where I was standing during the night. Stars would shine so magnificently over the canyon, along with the twinkling lights of Colorado Springs. Maybe one day I will be able to fulfill the need I have to see that view.

I left early on my departure back to Oregon. The normal route my family and I always used to take was to turn off of I-25, and go north west through Fort Collins on up. I wanted to switch it up a little bit this time, so I stayed on I-25 going north and I turned off right before Cheyenne, Wyoming, onto I-80 west. These white lines led me home.

Driving through different states is entertaining to me. They’re all so unique in their own ways. I stopped in Wendover, Nevada and spent the night, before awaking early and driving the rest of the way home. 1,245 miles later, I made it back to Klamath Falls, Oregon. Lucky me, I know.

This trip taught me to never stop longing for adventure and wisdom. I have a long way to go before I would consider myself to be a wise person, but I would love to achieve that title one day. I truly believe solo trips, camping solo, hiking solo, along with, hikes and trips with company, makes one a wiser being. Nature alone can teach wisdom for those who listen, appreciate, and have a need to learn. The difference between the sounds of tires on asphalt and tires on dirt, the sentiment of having a cup of tea and sharing a laugh with missed loved ones, the appreciation of a single wildflower, small blades of grass, or the warning of a rattle snake, and the humble pride of giving and sharing, are all aspects of life that lead to the brightest of wisdom.

Happy Hiking. Happy Days.

Nettie Pitman


Gramma’s Front Porch


Sunrise on the Funny Farm



Second Stop: Colo(rad)o Pt. 1

There is a reason why the word “rad” is in Colorado. It’s such a plentiful, amazing, beautiful state! I was lucky enough to be able to explore many different areas of Colorado during the second part of my end-of-the-summer solo trip. Colorado has been my second home away from Oregon my entire life; half of my family live there. So I have been able to experience the wonderful state for years, but this time was so much more fulfilling! I was able to explore practically the entire southern area of the state, west to east, and then some.

When I left Moab, UT, I pointed my wheels toward Marvel, Colorado. The tiniest, little town, with population, roughly, 50. There is one elementary school, a post office, and a church. So one could say Marvel is possibly the most interesting town in the U.S.! The best part about this sweet little town is Sheridan Packer lives there and this is why Marvel was my next destination. Sheridan has been one of my best friends since high school, and it had been too long since I’d seen her, so it was an anticipated drive!

The drive from Moab to Marvel went from desert and canyons, to rolling plains, to mountains and pine trees with a side of open plains. The little towns I drove through gave off the vibes of serendipity, and were spotted with the arts and crafts of the Navajo and Southern Ute Native American peoples. It’s absolutely amazing to take the time to drive through different areas of America. The cultures, societies, and landscapes flow in a change that’s so subtle and different from the last. Yet, at the same time the change is so quick and sometimes even dramatic. It’s so compelling to experience. The drive was about three hours long and I arrived in Marvel around two in the afternoon. Sheridan called me prior to my arrival to give me directions and to tell me to meet her at the post office because her house is tricky to find, and can you believe it?! I couldn’t find the post office. Being practically the only thing in the entire town and I drove right by it. I had to laugh at my blonde self for that one because it was too ridiculous. But alas! I found Sheridan and she found me and we were once again reunited. I parked my car in front of her adorable farm house and was greeted by all  her precious fur babies. Her dogs were a definite highlight in my whole trip.

That afternoon Sheridan and I drove into Durango, Co and walked around downtown. Durango is absolutely enchanting and gorgeous. It’s tucked down in a valley with mountain ranges and plateaus on either side. Highly recommend everyone take a visit to the cute little, old railroad town. The next morning we left around 8 and were on our way to Albuquerque, New Mexico. My visit overlapped with a family gathering Sheridan had to attend there, so I just tagged along! When we arrived in Albuquerque, we went to Sheridan’s grandparents. Awaiting there for us were homemade pie cookies and an endless amount of food Sheridan’s grandma had prepared. Talk about living the dream! After lunch, we set off to explore Albuquerque. Dressed up in dresses and sandals, we decided to go on a hike. Naturally. We took just a short drive to a trail head where we parked and set off on our fancy dressed, hiking escapade. The scenery was stunning, with different species of cacti, wild flowers, deciduous trees, and pines dispersed thickly throughout the area. We hiked along the well groomed trailed for only about 3/4th of a mile before we decided to turn around. Both Sheridan and I have it set to go back to that trail one day and hike to the peak of the Sandia mountain. We returned to Sheridan’s grandparents and left to the family gathering party where we shared lots of laughs and indulged in more delicious food. After the party Sheridan, her sister, Alyssa, and I had plans to drive to the peak of the Sandia Mountains (there is a paved road that leads up to the peak) so at around 11pm we set off to find the road. It took a good hour to figure out where the correct road was, but after a couple phone calls, and some U-turns, we found the correct path. The view from the top was stunning! The lights of Albuquerque stretched far and wide and shone so extravagantly. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a big-city kind of person, but experiencing sights like looking out over all of Albuquerque, New Mexico from the top of a mountain in the middle of the night really makes one appreciate all a big city has to offer.

The next morning we parted ways with Sheridan’s grandparents and we headed over to the New Mexico state fair. We explored the ginormous gathering of people, animals, food, old cars, and carnival rides for a few hours until we had seen everything there was to see, so we slipped away and pointed our wheels back toward Marvel.

We awoke that morning to me asking, “Do you want to go get tattoos?”. Yes. So that’s what we did. We left the tattoo parlor and headed straight to a trail head. Probably not a very sanitary idea considering our new tattoos were on our feet and lower legs, but that didn’t seem to matter. We hiked to the peak of Engineer Mountain, which over looked Durango. I very clearly remember the wind being so intense it almost blew me over a couple times, but besides that, it was stunning! Durango is so adorable.

The crazy adventure Sheridan and I went on the next afternoon was adrenaline filled, to say the least. Being the brilliant beings we are, we came up with the clever idea to drive up Kennebec Pass. Sheridan’s Jeep did wonders on the moderately sketchy dirt road leading up to the peak of the mountain. However, we thought the road we were on was bad…. little did we know it would not even compare to the road we so intelligently decided to drive up to get to the very top of the summit. When we reached the top, there was a parking area with informative signs that discussed the wildflowers, trees, and wildlife of the area, but there was a road that veered to the right to drive to the very peak if any one wished. We wished. And we very much regretted. The road was a one way, thin, dirt lane, with a straight drop off off one side and a wall of jagged rock on the other. All was well until we got about 10 feet from the itty bitty turn around that lived at the very top; the road stair stepped. It’s nearly impossible to paint the picture of complete, absolute fear that filled the Jeep within the 0.2 seconds when we both laid our eyes on the literal rock stairs that zigzagged up the face of the mountain. With the Jeep becoming so quiet one could hear Sheridan’s hand bones breaking from gripping the steering wheel so tightly, we slowly inched our way up the dreaded, horrific stairs. It wouldn’t have been so horrifying if there wasn’t a straight drop off, off the side of a mountain a foot away from the side of us. I have to admit, the view from the top made seeing our lives flash before our eyes worth it. It was ravishing. Driving back down the stairs? Not so ravishing. But with at least three wheels on the ground, we intricately teetered back down the road.

That night we went into Durango and tapped into our teenage selves again. Laughing, riding bikes, and long-boarding down the sidewalk at 10 at night with a group of friends really puts what “living” is into perspective. That is exactly what living is.

The next morning I would be leaving Sheridan and Marvel and Durango and going to Kit Carson, Colorado. Another little “population, 50” town where my grandparents live. My time spent with Sheridan really bettered the both of us, and lifted us into a state of pure happiness, if not only for a couple days. The memories and pictures we now share will last us a lifetime, and so will our friendship. I am so thankful to have such amazing people in my life to share such phenomenal experiences with. I began this trip with the intent of it being purely solo, but I discovered no matter where I go or what I do, even if I am by myself, I won’t ever be alone.

Find people who you can be your real self around; people who accept you and appreciate you for who you are. Find people who you can be wild with and who won’t question or snark at you when you want to go dance in the rain; but who will gladly dance with you.

Happy Hiking. Happy Days.

Nettie Pitman


Sandia Peak overlooking Albuquerque, NM


Engineer Mnt.


Kennebec Pass La Plata Canyon, CO

First Stop: Moab, UT

I was extremely blessed to have the opportunity to take a solo end-of-the-summer-adventure to Colorado. I have loved ones in Colorado who I haven’t been able to visit for a couple years, so it was my first choice destination. The normal route from Oregon to Colorado that my mom and I usually took was through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and into Colorado. However, since I was trekking alone, and it’s been on my bucket list for yearrrsss, I decided to skip Wyoming, go down to Moab, Utah, and then east on over to Colorado. Best. Decision. Ever.

I left around 7am on September 5th. Of course my mom had already called to threaten me; “You better be careful!”, “Take it slow!”, “Watch for deer!”, “Did you forget anything?”. Along with multiple texts from my uncle, Marilynn, and Sheridan about the same warnings and questions. I’m blessed to have so many who care so much. I had packed both my hiking packs, my hiking boots, three water bottles, my sleeping bag, a pillow, my cooler with food, and all of the other necessities that are required when traveling. My cooler was full of the food I would live on for the next three and a half days which consisted of, a bag of baby-snack size bell peppers, baby carrots, two cans of black olives that I dumped into a Tupperware, salami, sliced cheese, three apples, veggie chips, granola bars, crackers, and lots of water. I did not think my choices of food through very well…

So, off I went! It wasn’t long before I was through Oregon and into Nevada, and then heading into Utah. The drive itself wasn’t extremely exciting, although I did get caught up in a cattle drive about twenty minutes outside of Lakeview. That was kind of neat. But other than that, I just trekked right along, singing to myself and pondering life.

I arrived in Moab at around 8pm, by this time it was dark (obviously) so I really had no idea what to expect for the next day. The moon was almost full so I could see the outline of the canyons and mountains (which were beautiful!) and I saw the most amazing, gigantic shooting star. I didn’t go all the way into the city of Moab, I turned off about 20 miles from, toward Dead Horse State Park and Canyonlands National Park. My plan was to camp the three nights I was in Moab, so I set off to find a camp ground. I drove up the road toward the parks until I reached a sign that read “Lone Mesa Campground”. I turned down that dirt road to figure out what I was in for. It was weird. To find a spot to camp, one just drives down the road and if there is a pullout marked with a stick with a picture of a tent on it, he can camp there. So that’s what I did, and the first spot I came to, I backed my little Honda in and parked for the night.

I slept in my car for the three nights. My trusty little four-door Honda Accord. I have to admit, it was actually really cozy! I would move everything that was in my backseat to the front seats and trunk and I would cuddle up in my sleeping bag and pillow and pass out. The first night I was there, I was TERRIFIED. I was so scared to be out there alone, sleeping, not even knowing what my surroundings looked like. But it was the fear that really made me feel alive and excited. I slept like a rock.

When I awoke the first morning, I was amazed at what I saw when I looked out of my window. Pure, raw, natural beauty. I threw my hiking attire on, laced up my boots, situated my car, and took off toward Dead Horse State Park. Seeing this areas’ canyons, rock, trees, grasses, cacti, etc. for the first time is so insanely exciting. I was absolutely blown away by every large and tiny organism I came in contact with. I hiked around Dead Horse for a few hours and then headed on over to Canyonlands National Park. I was shocked to see how strikingly vivid all the scenery is in this part of the country. When one thinks of desert, the majority might think “bland, blah, boring”, nooo way man. The canyons look fake. They look like a painting, or a Disney creation. Staring out into them and admiring all they have to offer is life changing. They really make you think about how small we really are; how massive everything else around us is. They make you think about life and change and difference. I cannot put into words how immaculate they are. All of the life they hold, the rivers running through them, the tiny chipmunks (and they are TINY), the wildflowers, the cougars and bear and deer, the juniper trees, and Douglas firs. They house all of this life and so so much more. (Fun fact I learned from a trail head sign: the desert floor may just look like sand and dirt but it is actually called Biological Soil Crust and it is made up of microorganisms, cyanobacteria. This bacteria not only keeps the ground from being eroded, but it also provides nutrition to the plants that inhabit the desert floor. So even the dirt in deserts is living!)

For the next two days, Sept. 6th and 7th, I hiked around and explored Canyonlands. I went into Dead Horse in the morning to get an orange juice from the little coffee stand. I’d go there at night before bed too, to use the campgrounds outdoor shower. I was so excited I found somewhere with running water to brush my teeth! You really never know how much of a luxury running water is until you don’t have it around. The longest trail I hiked, and found for that matter, was a five mile loop in Canyonlands called Neck Spring. The trail gradually went down into a canyon to two natural springs. Cowboys and Native Americans used to take their cattle to these springs for water, and at the springs they left behind old watering troughs and tin cans they used as cups. I was pumped when I found this trail because it was a long one compared to the others I had hiked and it led to water! Which I thought was going to be really exciting to experience in such a dry, hot area. Let me tell you, I had NO idea what I was in for. I had it set in my mind that hiking down into this canyon would be more or less like hiking to the summit of a mountain. Not even remotely close. Going into the canyon was an uphill battle and coming out of the canyon was an uphill battle. Not to mention, it was around 95 degrees on the rim of the canyon, so it was about 100 degrees down inside. With small patches of shade along the trail, and still, dry, non-moving air, the majority of the hike was in the blazing hot sun. I soon learned I was the only one on the trail. (PSA: don’t ever hike alone. It’s dangerous and can be really scary. I personally know this and I know the consequences, but I personally do a lot of things I know I’m not supposed to do… Sorry mom…) At one point, I thought I heard music playing down the trail from me, so I picked up the pace a little to see if I could catch up to the people in which it belonged. It would have been reassuring to know for sure I wasn’t the only human hiking down in this death-valley of a canyon. I never caught up to the people, in fact I never even seen another person on the trail, except one guy who was hiking in while I was hiking out. He was the brunette, hiker version of Shawn White and all he said to me in passing was, “Why are we hiking in this heat right now?”. I told him I’d like the answer to that as well. So, I’m not even sure if the music was real, or if it was a figment of my heat-sparked delusion. I did, however see an old chute-like structure and a few sections of old fence from the old cowboy era. It is amazing to me to think about how these canyons were used by humans. People used to use these canyons as a “fence” to keep all of their livestock. It must have been such a difficult job with intense, hard work to keep animal’s well and alive in such hot, steep, uneven conditions. I am in awe of all of the people who utilized the canyons for their benefit. Anyway, this particular hiking story has a disappointing ending; I never made it to the springs. It was too hot and miserable, and even though I had packed three bottles of water I was beginning to run out. It was too dangerous in the conditions I was in to go all the way without water, even if it was only five miles. (Which seems like 150 miles when you’re in 100 degree, roasting hot sun.) But heat stroke and heat exhaustion are no joke. Horrible damage can come out of those conditions, and I wasn’t ready to experience what they were, especially being alone. So I relaxed under a tree, ate an apple, and hiked back out of the oven I was baking in. I now have it on my bucket list to go back during a cooler season and hike Neck Springs all the way. I will conquer that trail one day.

I hiked to the Mesa Arch to watch the sunset before driving back to the main overlook of the canyon to star gaze. It was an easy hike that only took me about five minutes. The sunset was absolutely mesmerizing over the canyon. Especially with a rain storm coming in, the cloud coverage mixed with the oranges, reds, yellows, purples, greens, and blues of the sunset was an image so perfect that I had to thank God I was blessed enough to be able to admire it. All of His creation blows me away. Star gazing over a canyon is something everybody needs to do at least once in her lifetime. It is a little creepy, I must admit, because it’s a big huge pitch black hole. But, the stars are so worth it.

I laid in my little backseat-bed that night happy as a clam. I ate a couple pieces of salami and black olives for dinner. This was the kind of dinner I ate for the three nights I was there. I need help with food shopping for travel and adventures. I replayed all of my Moab escapades, smiled, laughed, and felt overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness that I was lucky enough to be out here doing this. The next morning I would be seeing Moab in my rear view mirror, driving two and a half hours to Marvel, Colorado, population 50, to reunite and stay with one of my best friends, Sheridan. This would begin my Colorado visit. It would also be the beginning of yet another whole new outlook on life and the world, a whole new world of possibilities, and a whole lot of memories and adventures that would last me a life time.

Moab really taught me about fear, and how it can be such a great gift. I haven’t ever felt as scared, yet, as wild and free as I have on this solo trip as a whole, but especially while I was roughing it in Moab. This trip has really brought to me a feeling of “life”; an urgency to live. Life is way too short to be miserable, so the time is always now to make yourself happy, to make yourself appreciate and love who you are and who you want to be. Forgive others who have wronged and hurt you. Forgive yourself for wronging and hurting yourself and others. Let all of that weight fall off your shoulders. Or better yet, go throw it off of the edge of a canyon! Go out and do something terrifying yet astonishing. When you’re truly scared to death, that’s when you will learn how to live.

Happy Hiking. Happy Days.

Nettie Pitman


Canyonlands National Park canyon overlook


Canyonlands National Park: Mesa Arch


Canyonlands National Park: Island in the Sky


My campsite ft. Rhonda the Honda


Canyonlands National Park: Murphy Trail Destination Overlook


Dead Horse State Park canyon overlook