Coming to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area for the first time was a life changing moment for me. I can remember leaving Walla Walla early in the morning, clear blue skies, beautiful sunshine, and green flowing wheat fields that I knew would be harvested by the time I returned. I remember thinking in the car as we were driving out of town, “Why am I doing this?” I asked myself this question, everything that I was familiar and comfortable with was in the town I was leaving. I loved watching the green wheat fields turn golden brown just before being harvested. I loved the rolling hills, sunsets that came along with summers in Walla Walla, and the people who I was leaving behind. I had many responsibilities there that I was leaving behind. As all of these thoughts passed through my mind, I couldn’t help but think, “Am I making the right decision?”. After pondering this thought for a mile or two, a sense of peace came over me. It was in that moment that I no longer thought about if i were making the right decision, I knew I was.
This sense of peace guided me down the highway with every new turn came a new incredible sight. I had never been to Stanley and didn’t know what it looked like but somehow I knew it was going to be incredible. The moment I rounded the corner and saw the Sawtooth Mountain Range for the first time is a moment I will never forget. Once I laid my eyes on those mountains I couldn’t help but feel free. Looking at those mountains reminded me how incredibly lucky I am to be able to get to call this place home for the summer. Those mountains stand over our little town of Stanley like guardians. They are there not only to offer great adventure and phenomenal sights, but also to remind us that even though the journey may sometimes be hard, the view from the top is always worth it.
There are moments in your life you just know are life changing moments. Those mountains and the town of Stanley was a life changing moment for me. Every day brings a new adventure with it, a new lake to hike to, a new person to meet, and a new sunrise and sunset over this amazing valley I’ve fallen so much in love with. I hope that every time I return here, I have the same feeling of freedom as that first day. Stanley is my freedom, the mountains are my reminder to keep persevering…what’s yours?
Ashley Ramsey, Naturalist