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 think it is all too easy for us readers to move on and away from the 'story' of the accident to your foot and assume it has a happy ending. It is right that you remind us that you live with the aftermath and that it echoes everyday with every tread you both need or want to make. Pain is hard. The very hardest. I wish you well in overcoming it. I am glad the spirit of the wood helps nourish your own lovely nature and I hope that it provides balm and happiness often. Those wonderful luscious woods are a sight to behold. Our beautiful world at its finest.

I need to live in Oregon for a few years. You capture its beauty so well. In telling about your accident and the daily challenges you live with (I had no idea), you remind me that every one of us has a story of how we are overcoming.

I read your blog and Andy are great parents to that sweet baby girl!!!

The photos of that walk are lovely, how nice to have such a walk on your doorstep and one not too challenging. Your dear sweet little girl has to be the most enchantingly dressed little girl. such love is poured into everything and it shows.

She is a very loved it just shines through.


I'm sorry about your foot and your ongoing pain. Your woods in this picture remind me of ours - damp and mossy and magical.

I love Amelia in her daddy.

Sorry, still half-asleep! And although no one cares about errors in blog comments, I do when they're my own errors! I meant "your woods in this post" not picture. ;-) I hope you're having a lovely day.

so THIS is where the fairies live! finally, i know. i can tell this is's just where they live, that's all. i'm sure you've seen them.
but even a fairie-filled forest can be difficult to navigate when your foot is troubling...i hope the trip is worth does seem to be. i'm guessing walking with that sweet muff and your andy makes it all worthwhile.

Once again your photo's take us there with you.

Being of a certain a age, I too like a sitting down place when hiking or walking. But it seems so different when you're with a child. I can walk/ramble much further than expected.

What fun you all must have had.
Here's to many more days such as these.

I was never taken into the woods much, so I try to get my girls out there a lot. They do resist sometimes, but at 8 - they have so many expectations of being out in nature and camping that I never had. I also find myself coming up against limitations, so I love your reminders - being in nature should never be let go. Your little girl is so cute, such a little doll. Have a good weekend.

Oh how I love that green fairy light of the Oregon woods!

She looks like an extra in the sweet book "hank finds an egg" sweet!

I think your sweet girl loves the woods too. Your pictures are, as always, a feast for the eyes...beautiful.

what a wonderful break in my day -- would love to have gone on that hike! thank you for sharing.

As ever, such a beautiful post. I admire your honesty. I can't imagine living with pain as you do but certainly believe you make the most of life despite your suffering. Thank you again and again for sharing.

It doesn't look like winter there! But it's gorgeous and now I can see why my husband keeps pestering me to vacation in the Pacific Northwest. (Neither one of us has been there.) I have your Winter ABC cross stitch hanging in my dining room, and I see the inspiration for its design in these photos.

Mimi is picturebook-perfect, and I love how you dress her and that you're not afraid to let her get those adorable clothes dirty.

I have been reading your blog for years and years and years, so I knew about your foot, but I'm sorry to know that it still hurts you all the time. Hugs. My outdoor place to go to make everything all right is Leelanau County in Michigan.

Such adventures you have.

I cannot even comprehend the beauty in which you live. It's majestic. gosh.

Marion Handsley says: January 16, 2015 at 02:10 PM

I love reading your blog and what you and your daughter do she is such a pretty little one. I to have a painful foot mine is crumbling and I have to wear special shoes to support it, I always loved to walk round places in town or the country side and now I struggle as it is so painful but I do like what you do walk a bit and sit a bit. It's so good to be out in open spaces and watch the world go round. xx

What beautiful woods, enchanted indeed. I'm sorry you're in pain regularly, I'm glad you can enjoy the woods though, they really are magical. CJ xx

Oh wow, we must have had like-minded fathers! We trekked all over the Great Lakes camping, hiking, looking for fossils and agates, visiting Native American burial grounds. Sounds lovely, and some of the times it was, but often it was too much for a family of six with small baby (oh and when it rained!). But I have also come to appreciate the woods - there is nothing more calming that being surrounded by the vastness and beauty of nature where all your senses are alert and calm. But we commit to shorter hikes and smaller trips and they do the trick just as well. Looking at your photos is like entering into a magical land, so glad you can share this with us.

It's Friluftsliv!

Love that she has a shirt just like daddy's. Kids in plaid slay me. :)

Alicia, you are a lovely person inside and out. I could go on and on about your talents and your abilities with words and needle and thread .... and eye and heart for beauty. Suffice it to say, I would like to hold your face in my two hands, pull you to me, hug you and give you a soft kiss on the cheek. You are a treasure.

i also have a two-year-old and live in Oregon, and in hopes of finding appropriate hikes in beautiful places that would teach her to love where she lives, I bought the Creaky Knees Guide to Oregon - 80 easy hikes. There's also one for Washington. It's a funny name, but turned out to be just perfect this last year for our budding hiker. We discovered, for example, the walk around Trillium Lake, with its view of Mt Hood. Maybe it would be good for you guys too!

Ugh, I love this, I do and I don't even like going outside that much, but this makes me want to go into the woods, like Thoreau.

Danielle G says: January 16, 2015 at 05:35 PM

zigzag falls is another flat, easy hike in that area (my home turf). my kiddos loved it when they were tiny and still enjoy it now, though it can be snowy this time of year. :)

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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