I have always adored and anticipated the energetic signature of Fall. How the heat and ferocity of Summer collapse into the pace of Autumn; a word that evokes the primordial Om, as if the drum beat of time slows in September to match my breath drawing in and out.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine Fall is associated with the Lung meridian. Our lungs pull in air and qi from the outside world and distribute them throughout our physical form. The lungs are a major player in the creation of vitality, including our ability to breathe through what happens to us and around us, a superpower that cannot be overestimated during this era. Qi (our life force) enters through the lungs and descends, grounding us both in our bodies and into the Earth. While Summer is external, extroverted, and playful, Autumn is inherently internal, deep, and introspective.
Fall is rich in texture; crunchy leaves, multi dimensional clouds, soft sweaters, warm hues of orange and red. The meander towards Winter's aloof darkness is unequivocally my favorite time to be alive. Larches put on their vibrant last stand, yelling yellow before their needles drop, trees strip bear their foliage, and these transitions-small deaths-are somehow universally beautiful.
The delicate crispness of the air makes life feel full of potent possibility. Every year I think of the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote: "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall." There is nothing like hiking in September and October. Climbing up through dense atmospheric layers, wind sometimes howling like a wild animal, adding then subtracting clothes every mile, all while the color wheel of nature changes in front of your eyes.
Even I, in all my anti-establishment persuasions, LOVE an overpriced pumpkin spice (oat milk) latte. I got a little turnt at Trader Joes last week- already one of my favorite places to be- shopping in my flannel and beanie, throwing pumpkin curry simmer sauce and pumpkin spiced cinnamon rolls into my cart. Dia de los muertos skull themed succulent holder? Sure. Yes. Absolutely.
Even though I haven't dressed up for Halloween since I was 22 and a bar party my crew was attending demanded costumes for entry (me: mad scientist), something about Fall puts me in an amicable and willing mood, softer and sweeter than the rest of the year, ready to play along with the basic traditions that proliferate in cuffing season.
If you live in Washington state, these are my personal favorite Fall hikes:
1. Blue Lake, North Cascades (nearby Maple to Heather Pass Loop is also gorgeous but even more crowded)
2. Goat Lake, Mountain Loop Highway
3. Lake Valhalla and Mt. McCausland, Central Cascades
4. Naches Peak Loop, Mt. Rainier *Doable for all!*
I've seen incredible trip reports from Lake Ingalls and Yellow Aster Butte for larch marches and color displays. Note: you will not be alone on any of these trails. Everyone wants to bear witness (and take photos for IG). Like I said, universally beautiful!