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Finding a Little Bit of Balance in the Outdoors

Posted by Washington Trails Association at Sep 28, 2020 12:21 PM |

For long-time WTA member Archana Bhat and her family, there’s no such thing as an uneventful backpacking trip.

by Patrick Myers

For long-time WTA member Archana Bhat and her family, there’s no such thing as an uneventful backpacking trip.

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Photo by Archana Bhat.

“The recurring theme with our backpacking trips is that we always have some sort of ‘excitement,’” she said. “On our very first backpacking trip, my son sprained his wrist. Last summer in the Goat Rocks (Wilderness Area), my daughter got sick and we had to camp in a site that was closer than planned. We end up making a lot of memories that, in retrospect, make great stories and lots of lessons learned.”

Since their twins, a son and daughter, were young, Archana and her husband have prioritized hiking and backpacking as a way to stay active, explore new landscapes and learn about ecology. On their hikes, Archana enjoys taking in the world with her macro photography and encourages her twins to find richness in the details of the natural world, rather than simply striving for the summit.

But like every other hiker, Archana has found herself adjusting to an altered hiking reality in 2020. The family’s annual backpacking trips were either canceled, postponed or altered due to trail closures implemented in the interest of public health. The closures forced Archana’s family to find creative ways to stay connected to the outdoors.

“We ended up hiking on our neighborhood trails once they opened,” she said. “We also spent a lot more time on Whidbey Island this spring, which has a wealth of trails that are not super crowded and beach walks at low tide.”

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Photo by Archana Bhat.

Archana has also made use of her skills in nature photography, a hobby she says is a vital component of her work-life balance.

“Being a working mom and primary household manager, I have found that photography gives me an outlet to find peace and solitude in my busy life,” she said. “A little bit of balance.”

Along the way, Archana has relied heavily on WTA as a resource to navigate what outdoor activities she and her family could partake in while staying in line with public health recommendations. According to Archana, it’s resources like these that convinced her to become a supporting member of WTA years ago and continue sustaining her support over time. She also uses her stunning photography, featured here, to put together calendars that raise funds for WTA.

“I think it is important to give back to the communities you care about,” she said. “And just like paying for food, gas and essentials — hiking is an essential activity for our family. I also appreciate the efforts WTA makes to welcome families of color and the focus on diversifying the outdoors for all. Growing up in a family of nonhikers, I have had to learn about hiking, conservation and backpacking on my own. Having an organization like WTA has been tremendous in my education.”

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 issue of Washington Trails magazine. Support trails as a member WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.