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Olympic Peninsula, Wa

The Emotion of the National Park Closure: Olympic National Park

A giant cedar, surrounded by swords of green thrusting through moss and fallen branches; you are home.

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Walking on soil still damp from the rains of a thousand years ago; you are home.

 

 

The Olympic National Park is more than just a spot on a map. It is more than the land of salmon, elk, marmots and black bears. It is the place where I feel most myself. Standing next to fir trees draped with blankets of moss or on watching the sun set behind a sea stack on one of our chilly beaches this place calls to me. If I am standing on a rugged mountain peak or sitting along the banks of a moss-buffered river banks, my soul is at peace. This isn’t the place of my ancestors, but it should have been. I love this place and can’t imagine being anywhere else.

 

My sanctuary is now closed. The Government shutdown has put up gates. I have been denied entry to be dwarfed by wooden giants that were ancient long before this country was taken from the native peoples. The same Government went back on a promise of heading out west. The closure of the National Parks is nothing compared to the atrocities that were committed for the “three G’s” of Manifest Destiny. I do find some irony that on this Columbus Day, the land we all thought was ours has been ripped away from us.

 

The whole situation saddens me. The trails of the Olympic National Park are timeless. They are quietly old and they are where I feel most at home. This area keeps me sane and calm and I am not allowed to enter. Nature keeps me sane. When I go a week without a serious hike, i start to feel trapped. The Olympic National Park, with its vast areas of awesomeness that have yet to be explored helps keep me calm. The Olympic National Park is where I go to be calm. The Olympic National Park is the place where no matter how bad the stress of life gets and it always relaxes me. It is silly to say, but the last 14 days of the Government Shutdown have been really hard to deal with. I have been worried; not just financially, as my business has come to a screeching halt, but mentally. I feel less than whole and If I want to get back to the place that fills the void, I have to jump a fence…

 

Jumping the fence at Staircase in the Olympic National Park in early October 2013

Jumping the fence at Staircase in the Olympic National Park in early October 2013

 

The Olympic National Park is home. The actions of Congress have shown that we do not matter. They do not care about nature; they do not care about us. The Parks have been closed as leverage and the entire region is hurting financially. From Forks and LaPush to Quinault, Sequim and Hoodsport, we all feel it. The parks have become the region’s livelihood and now Congress has left us with nothing.Well, except the memories.

Please give us this back.

A hiker in the Quinault Rainforest

A hiker in the Quinault Rainforest

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