Happy Winter Solstice

Carson Falls

Happy Winter Solstice and Merry (almost) Christmas! I hope this week is filled with light, love, and laughter with your friends and family, new and old.

This week I returned to Marin, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, to visit a multi-tiered waterfall called Carson Falls. Carson Falls cascades through Little Carson Creek, a tributary of Kent Lake in the Mount Tamalpais Watershed. Carson Falls is my 15th trail description for Modern Hiker, and I'm really proud to have hit this milestone.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the hike:

This week I was listening to Emily Blunt's interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, and I was struck by an observation Blunt made about storytelling. Blunt was talking about how nervous she was auditioning for director Rob Marshall for “Into the Woods.” She says (at 17:36):

And I went in to audition. And I said, Rob, I’m very, very nervous. I said, I don’t like singing in front of people. And he said - he said, I’m not - as you say - he said, I’m not interested in singers who can kind of act. I want actors who can kind of sing. And he said, so I just want you to tell me a story. And stop worrying about making it sound pretty. But tell me - tell me your story as this character.

And that’s, I think, what I learned is that I think the singers that we all respond to and fall in love with are the ones that evoke a story and the ones that make you feel something. It’s not just about listening to vocal gymnastics. It’s about telling a story that moves people. So that’s sort of what I tend to focus on now and not worry about how it sounds. And it always sounds better if I stop worrying about how it sounds.

I thought her words about “telling a story that moves people” was a beautiful sentiment. I related to it, in a way, as a hiker/writer. A lot of times people ask me how I came to write, and it really was the other way around—I came to hiking first and writing grew from there. I struggle with feeling like I’m not up to par as a writer, but reading this helps me remember the value of hard work, telling a story, and bringing joy to people. It brings me joy painting a trail’s story with pictures and words, and I take Blunt’s words as inspiration to keep working hard to tell them.

I wish you a wonderful holiday and a very Merry Christmas,

Melissa :)