Yesterday I went up to spend the night at my favorite destination on Mount Hood, alone. I’m starting to find myself up here once every year, but coming by myself this time is a new one. Years ago I don’t know if I would’ve even contemplated the possibility of backpacking solo, but I guess a decade of living and camping the Pacific Northwest pushes you to try new things. There’s something really freeing about going into the wilderness alone. You go your own pace, stopping anytime you want to admire the sky, or to look back behind you to see how far you’ve come. You don’t have to talk just to talk. You move with everything you need on your back. I think a lot of people would balk at the solitude. But when you’re up high and all the bad parts of civilization seemingly hundreds of miles away, solitude is what gives you the space to wrap yourself up in your thoughts and your daydreams, to compress the past and the future into one forward movement, and in those moments the world feels big again, good, and almighty. As it should.