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Trails Make Space for New Memories

Posted by Linnea Johnson at May 23, 2023 06:20 AM |

WTA marketing manager Linnea Johnson reflects on outdoor memories with family while making space for new ones. By Linnea Johnson

One week before I started my WTA career, my parents came to visit me in Seattle. The moment my mom, Cecilia, bought the tickets, she and I started dreaming of hiking together. Since I moved to Washington in 2018, I’ve only seen my parents two or three times a year, so every moment is precious, and we knew there was no better place to spend our time than on trail.

My family and I adore adventuring together, from national park road trips to strolls around local parks, and the Northwest is a special place for my mom. She treasures memories of visiting Mount Rainier with her family as a teenager and hiking with her dad, who passed away before I was born.

Two hikers take a selfie on a verdant trail.
Linnea and Cecilia relish time together on trail. Photo by Linnea Johnson.

When choosing a hike for us, I knew that WTA’s Trailblazer app would have my back. I had considered taking mom to a higher-elevation hike along the Mountain Loop Highway to witness the transformation from rainforest to winter wonderland. However, we had a couple of time constraints: We needed to be back home in time to host friends for dinner AND we were about to leave my dad and my new partner — who had just met each other — together for the day. Fortunately, recent trip reports gave me a reality check — we’d need traction devices and we didn’t have time to make it to an alpine lake and back. Instead, I chose a more level route, the Lime Kiln Trail, just outside of Granite Falls.

From the moment we stepped onto the trail, I knew that our time together there would be special. While venturing through cathedrals of mossy branches along the Stillaguamish River, we slowed down, shed our roles as hostess and visitor, and were able to be present with each other as the best friends we’ve always been. She and I got into the kinds of conversations that only happen when you know you have enough time — stories from the past, our hopes for the future and tidbits that hadn’t made it into phone calls. 

The trail became a shared space where we could create new memories together from the magical moments the forest never fails to provide: the delight of a tiny frog hopping out from underfoot, the thrill of stopping in our tracks upon realizing we were enshrouded in mist, the playfulness of ducking under fallen trees. 

When we rounded the corner into a gully laden with deep green ferns, my mom gasped with awe. Accustomed to the deciduous forests of Ohio, which turn barren in the coldest months, she was stunned by the sight of this rich, primordial forest full of life. Reflecting on the hike, she said, “To see green in November was a gift.” We stopped there, arms around each other’s shoulders, and simply listened to the drizzle on the leaves above and the rush of the river below.

For the countless Washingtonians like myself who are from elsewhere, every minute with out-of-town loved ones is a gift. I can imagine no better way to spend those moments than making new memories on trail. 

Linnea Johnson (she/her) joined WTA as marketing manager in 2022. She uses her experiences in communications, ecology, environmental education, museum studies and mindfulness to inspire action toward a more just and sustainable future.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.