Into the Woods

comments: 122






























Enchanted forest. This is the west end of the Old Salmon River Trail. It's just outside of Welches, Oregon, in Mt. Hood National Forest. I think it's our favorite walk (also pictured here and here). I'm hard-pressed to find an easier (it's flat and wide), more beautiful hike, fairly close to home. My hiking abilities are about on par with our two-year-old's (and here's her sweater, by the way). I don't care how far (not far) we go, just get me to the quiet sitting-down place and I can stay for hours, listening to the river, watching for birds or slugs, making stone soup, smelling the evergreens and the moss and the mud. It's a wild, twisting, silver-greened, soft-floored forest, so different from the upright, oak-filled midwestern woods I grew up walking in. I never liked to go very much, then. We were required to, and I balked at being made to go. As an adult, I'm much more sympathetic to my dad's intentions. But for many years I wanted nothing less than to go into the woods. I walked — oh how I walked! — but only ever among the houses, in the neighborhoods, and for miles and miles and miles, everywhere. Anywhere. But always in town. At some point, when I started living with Andy and we moved to Montana, I let the woods back into my life. Not long after that, I was run over by a truck and my left foot was destroyed. They put it back together, but it's a patchworked, fragile, frustrated thing, protected with gel pads and compression stockings and the special silly-looking orthopedic shoe I wear with every step I take, even just when going across the room. It usually hurts. But in the woods I do not care how it feels. I just feel happy. We wander and amble, stop and sit. She prances and talks. She sings and babbles, pointing, chattering away like a little bird. She cooks in puddles and throws sand. She is always carrying something — a stick, a leaf, a flower, a handful of rocks. She squats to look, or does her funny, swaggering walk, like she owns the place. She gets carried on her dad's shoulders when she's done. He carries me too, in our own way. I want my girl to love the woods. And I think she does.


I sure love your stories. I look forward to everyone of your posts. I so wish that I lived in a little cabin in the woods. Days filled with wandering, evenings filled with sewing and reading.....

How perfectly lovely. A wonderful walk and a beautiful baby.

I think it would be safe to say she *loves* the woods, if your beautiful pictures are anything to go by :)

jill collins says: January 19, 2015 at 07:15 PM

These pictures are absolutely beautiful. Magical is the right word. I love the woods more than anything, but my husband has lost half his foot to an amputation and it is so hard on him to walk very far. He mentions that it is always painful. Your words help me to remember to be more patient. Thanks!

What an exceptionally beautiful post! Mimi looks like she's part of the woods like a wee fairy or fawn. Thank you for the lovely look into such a hushed, beautiful world.

These are de kind of pictures that make us realize how life in the city is dull. Love all the pictures. They make me dream!

Lenka Boyd says: January 20, 2015 at 09:13 AM

I am following your blog for a while already an admiring the way of your living. I love your crafts - you are truly talented. I love to see your lovely daughter growing from post to post - she is adorable little girl. Your cooking, photography, family, home, travel - all what you doing making me admiring you.... With so much pain... And you are able to share with us, your readers, so much happiness and LIFE. Bless you for it!

Such a gorgeous day to explore the forest. I have always loved the woods, from growing up in my small town in Massachusetts, to visiting my grandparents' camp in Maine and now living in Washington state. I used to belong to the Mountaineers when my daughter was young; we hiked often and she still loves the woods and often takes her own family camping. I am sure that Mimi will have a huge appreciation and love of the woods as she grows up.

I remember reading about your horrible foot injury and how it impacted your lives, with Andy changing careers and becoming a nurse. It speaks volumes of your amazing character that you have found ways to enjoy your life despite the constant discomfort from that life-changing injury. Thank you for sharing your life and amazing talents with us. I absolutely love the way you dress Mimi - what a blessing for all of you to have her in your lives.

Was there ever a child who got so much use out of her Wellies?!?

What beautiful pictures! Going into the woods is so special. I love her sweater. I actually finished making my daughter a Granny's Favorite last week which I started in December. It is such a wonderful pattern. I will make her another in a couple years when she has outgrown this one. I really like the color yarn you used. My girl's sweater is red.

Your writing is enchanting and it soothes my soul to read. Thank you for taking the time to share your beautiful words and experiences. Even the things that could be, or are sad are delivered in such a way that is calming or somehow hopeful. I always feel like I can take a deep breath and let my shoulders drop from around my ears after reading one of your posts. Thank you.

How wonderful is it that when you are in the woods, no matter what the foot is doing, you are happy. I feel happy reading your words. Little Miss has grown! She looks so big, and she looks so little - dwarfed by the giant trees, riding on her daddy's shoulders. Your photos are amazing - the mushrooms almost look 3D. Love, Whosyergurl - Cheryl

Thanks a lot for sharing these beautiful photos. That forest is truly something else! I love how positive you are and how you make the most of life simple things.

sue collins says: January 22, 2015 at 06:52 AM

A magical forest, with a whale's eye in a fallen tree...just beautiful. ps love that you are introducing your daughter to the pure, sweet pleasures of our wonderful world.

I have been regularly reading your blog for several years and have never commented, although I have wanted to many times. I don't remember how I found it, but it was the photos of my dear Mt. Hood that drew me. Your love of "handmade" was a very happy discovery after I enjoyed the photos of the Mt Hood area.

My grandparents lived at the base of The Mountain-in Zig Zag on Faubion Rd. My grandma, Anna (Rignes) Mitchell, was a Clackamus County extension agent and 4-H leader, and loved to sew, can, make pies, and did beautiful hand sewing. These loves she passed on to my mother and in turn, my mom passed on to me. I am working on passing them on to my now teenage daughter. I have several of the quilts she hand stitched, which I am grateful for. Her parents came to the Silverton/Canby area from Norway in the late-ish 1800s.

My grandpa, Arlie Mitchell, came from pioneer roots in the Sandy/Eagle Creek/Mt. Hood area (Mitchell and Forrester families). He, along with his sister, were tollgate keepers at the Barlow Road tollgate at Rhododendron before it was opened to the public in 1919. My grandpa carved the stone shape of Mt. Hood that is part of the stone Mt. Hood National Forest marker, which he also made, across the highway from the ranger station at ZigZag. There is a road in Rhododendron that bears his name, Arlie Mitchell Rd. My great grandparents raised Lige Coleman, early Mt. Hood guide and developer of the forest service fire finder, with their own children, and he was like a brother to my grandpa and his siblings. Lige and the Mitchell boys built the first lookout on Mt. Hood. My grandpa had many stories of the old days on and around the Mountain.

Your photos and stories of The Mountain are beautiful. My grandparents would have loved you, and I'm so thankful that you came to Oregon and fell in love with Mt. Hood and the surrounding forests. I get to walk the paths and see the beauty once again every time you post photos and the wonderful words that go with them. Thank you. You have blessed me immeasurably.

If you're interested in learning more about the history of the area, you can stop by the Sandy Historical Society Museum in Sandy, where they have a large photo of my grandpa, his sister, and his father, Steve Mitchell, during the time my grandpa was tollgate keeper. My grandpa will be the young man holding a puppy and my great grandfather will be the older "mountain man". You can't miss him. He looks the part. Without the photo in front of me, I can't tell you which one is my great aunt. There is another museum up at Government Camp-the Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum. They are both great museums and I highly recommend them!

My new novel for young readers draws on details of outdoorsy, Northwest life, and an author friend recommended your blog. I love these scenes of the forest and the beautiful little sprite soaking it up...they will inspire my writing today.

Hey Alicia-
Your new cross stitch is stunning. How do I get that one!!!???

Terry Fest says: January 28, 2015 at 08:16 PM

Missed visiting your blog with holidays. We live not far from this hiking area in the woods. It is the best. The little girls in my life and one big one will have to come with Nani (me) on this hike. We have 30 acres and old growth trees and water. That said, your photos always push me out the door to reexamine my beautiful backyard. We see you occasionally around town and feel like we are spying on an old friend. You darling little girl and her joy at everything is our delight. January is a time of renewal, rest and planning. Sewing is on my mind and that again brought me to your web site. Thank you for your gracious gift of the word and your eye for beautiful things. Now I am inspired to get in the car and drive up the road a few miles for that WALK. Happy New Year

ONEWEIRDWORD says: January 31, 2015 at 05:06 AM

Don't you just absolutely love how they always find a little treasure to carry around? Rocks, a good stick, a giant leaf. Wonderful, truly, as in full of wonder. Thanks for sharing this, Alicia.

Breathtaking photos. And what a little cutie she is :)

This is beautiful. Your story is beautiful. Your family is beautiful.

Lindy Huber says: March 12, 2015 at 06:12 PM

When I see these pics, I wonder why anybody would ever want to live anywhere but Oregon?!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at