written by Conor Foley

Today we are excited to announce the winners of the first Salem Summit Scholars contest! A little more than a month ago we asked our readers to share their voices and their stories with us. Our goal was to let these accounts of adventure speak to the reality that the Willamette Valley is home to many explorers.  We asked that your stories include the theme “a lesson learned” and after reading all of your submissions we can honestly say that we feel like winners ourselves, having read your beautiful words and learned of the wonderful adventures you are having.

We have posted links to the winning stories below as well as one honorable mention. Please enjoy their words as you get ready for your next adventure. Remember to check back here on the blog toward the end of summer for our next Salem Summit Scholars contest!

1st Place – Benjamin Cedartree

Winner of $100 Gift Certificate to Salem Summit Company


I was raised by streams of water. Towering giants reached to the heavens above me, centuries of song from the earth to the sky. Songs of water, rising softly from every living cell, and falling again, from dense clouds never seeming to end. Come summer, the song turned low, a hum shared under the canopies of trees and along the sides of rivers, cool and moist while the grass turned brown under long days of sun. continue reading…



2nd Place – Bryan Schaap

Winner of Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack and a Bill Sullivan “100 Hikes” title of choice.


I FIRST HIKED INTO THE LAKE as a sixteen year old, full of the boundless energy and exuberance of youth. The abiding silence of the wilderness was broken by the heavy footfall and even heavier laughter of my buddies and I – climbing and occasionally racing ever higher up the trail, from switchback to switchback, each of us blissfully oblivious to the strain of much too heavy packs tugging against our hips and shoulders. continue reading…



3rd Place – Michael Gay

Winner of Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack and a Rite in the Rain 4×6 notebook


In northern Idaho there is a stretch of dead end road that turns off of Highway 97 and leads to Outlet Resort on the edge of Priest Lake, one of Idaho’s crown jewels. The road is simply named Outlet Road. There is nothing special about it, just a half-mile of sloping dirt, gravel and potholes that ends at a small cement boat ramp and a few vacation cabins. continue reading…



Honorable Mention – Sarah Kyllo

Three fingered jack in fogIt was never really about summiting a mountain, a 7800 foot pile of rock. It was about a challenge of whether or not I could hike that far and climb that high against the voices telling me there were easier paths to take in life. continue reading…