written by Kelly Bauer

I love the woods. I love the silence. I love the adventure. I love being alone yet being surrounded by life. I have lived a life fortunate enough that I have been able to spend extended trips in the woods. I spent 32 days on the Missinaibi River in Canada where we saw more bears and moose than people. I spent a month backpacking and sea kayaking in Baja California. And for two years, I worked as a wilderness therapy guide in the high desert of Southwest Utah where I worked 8-24 day shifts at a time.

These days my trips are of the weekend warrior type and less frequent than I would like but alas, such are the constraints of modern society and its obligations. However, my soul still needs nourishment to keep me going until my next adventure. On the days that I find myself longing for the red rocks and desert flowers of the Southwest I pick up my weathered copy of Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire that was gifted to me years ago by a climbing guide and friend that went by the name Cloud Ibex.

The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn.

-Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

On the days that I miss the solitude of the trees, I read John Muir and become lost in his prose.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.

-John Muir, The Mountains of California

We have felt inspired by the words of the poets, philosophers and dreamers that broke the trail before us. Their words helped create and protect the land we know as wilderness today.  This blog has sought to do the same for our readers: inform, inspire and show all that the beautiful Northwest has to offer. We’ve shared our own trip reports, gear reviews and how-to pieces in an effort to get you to be confident and informed in your adventures and maybe even try something new.

The newest chapter of our blog hopes to inspire and create a community that shares their own adventures and stories through a program we’ve created called The Salem Summit Scholars.

Every 3 months we will host a writing contest to showcase the adventurers of the Willamette Valley and your stories. These can be trip reports, wilderness observations or general pieces highlighting your experiences outside. The theme of our first contest is “A Lesson Learned.”

This contest is for all ages. The top three stories chosen by our staff will be published on our blog and will receive special prizes, listed below.  By submitting an entry, you agree to let Salem Summit Company publish your entry on our website or social media outlets.  The contest will run from March 29th to April 26th at midnight. All appropriate stories are welcome. For ideas or inspiration, check out the trip reports published on this blog.

How to Enter:

  • Submit your story by April 26th at midnight via email sent to: scholars@salemsummitco.com
  • Writer must reside in the Willamette Valley
  • Please submit 1-3 appropriate and relevant photos to publish with your submission
  • We will evaluate the stories based on:
    • Creativity
    • Imagery
    • Spirit of adventure
    • Theme: “A Lesson Learned”


1st – $100 Gift Certificate to Salem Summit Company

2nd – Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack and a Bill Sullivan “100 Hikes” title of your choosing.

3rd – Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack and a Rite in the Rain 4×6 Notebook

We’re excited to read all about your adventures and continue to grow this community of adventure seekers!