Revisiting their favorite rugged regions in the PNW, Teva Explorers Berty and Emily Mandagie share why they feel in their element when exploring through the elements. Words and Photos by The Mandagies.
Like the rest of the world, 2020 was the year of staying home. Being PNW photographers and travel bloggers, we had a brief moment of panic about what our future would hold—travel was a vital part of our careers. That panic didn’t last long, however, because we were quickly reminded: we live in the Pacific Northwest.
Lush green forest, gorgeous coastline, and endless hiking trails are in our backyard. Just an hour away are some of our favorite trails and they didn’t have to go away when travel did! Berty and I realized how thankful we are to live in this corner of the world, so we decided to make it the muse of our latest project.
Seeking a Creative Outlet
We wanted to find a project that reflected the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the milestones we’ve experienced in our career so far. We started our photography business in 2016, shortly after we got married as we hiked, photographed, backpacked, and blogged in our teeny tiny Seattle apartment. The Cascade Mountains were our first muse, with seemingly endless alpine lakes and trails to explore. The PNW has been a treasure that keeps on giving as we stay put and dive deep into its small, beautiful details throughout the years.
That’s where the idea of creating a photo book came to be! As we’ve grown in both our outdoor and photography skills, our adventures have led us to more trails and more opportunities to collaborate with local businesses and creators. We feel like documenting this time in our lives felt like the right way to honor our roots, our place, and our community.
Ruggedly dependable with a GoreTex waterproof bootie, Emily wears the Grandview GTX hiking boots in Burnt Olive through wet terrains.
We quickly got to work mapping out the book’s structure and what photos and places to include in the pages. There are so many iconic PNW spots to share like Colchuck Lake and Cannon Beach, but we also wanted to share our favorite secluded and beautiful locations too, to inspire others to curate their own adventure out west. Our goal is to have it published by the end of the year, but we aren’t really putting pressure on this and simply just having fun as we go!
Filling in some photo gaps for the book made planning 2021 trips easy—we could stay local, but explore more deeply places and parks where we have only scratched the surface. The decision to return to destinations was an easy one. Instead of ticking off places on our Pacific Northwest bucket list and moving on, we are making a conscious effort to return to familiar locations and trails, but this time with a fresh set of eyes and an open schedule.
In Our Element – Exploring The Pacific Northwest
Since the beginning of the year, Berty and I have been implementing this slower, more thoughtful approach to trip planning in the Pacific Northwest. We are consciously choosing to hike a trail again to perhaps see it in a different season. Maybe even to linger a day or two longer in town, or spend another morning sipping coffee among the western sword ferns.
One way we are really getting into our element is by forest bathing! Now, this isn’t actually bathing in the forest (that would be a bit strange) but the term actually comes from a Japanese practice called ‘Shirin Yoku’, which literally translates to “forest bath.” It’s the practice of soaking in the forest atmosphere using all five of your senses and gave us a different perspective on our latest trails.
We paid attention to feeling the mud squish under our hiking boots, listened to the waves crash in the distance, noticed the rain falling between the trees and inhaled the scent of the fresh air, moss, and ocean breeze.
“The Grandview GTX hiking boots were a powerhouse the second we put them on our feet. They kept our feet dry the entire way, even when we put them through the ultimate test of muddy Pacific Northwest trails and unending rain showers.”
Our latest Oregon coast road trip consisted of rainy trails and ocean views. While hiking in the Pacific Northwest rain may not be everyone’s cup of tea— we absolutely love it. The unending freshness of the air, lush ferns, and canopy of trees makes it feel like you are transferred into a fairytale. We spent much longer hiking than we anticipated, but Berty and I both came back from this trip feeling refreshed, satisfied, and content. Overall when traveling in 2021, we’re seeking to put on less pressure to perform (for us that’s taking photos and creating content for social media) and more time to just sit back and enjoy what nature does best: exist!
Returning To a Favorite Destination In A Different Season
We absolutely love returning to familiar places in different seasons. It feels like you are visiting an old friend in a new stage of life! The change from even just three months ago in a place can be very distinct. For example, one of our favorite Washington hiking trails is lined with trees covering the ridge in foliage during the springtime. Returning in the winter, those tree trunks are bare, exposing a hidden mountain view in the distance! Who knew this view was only available in the colder months, and we were so happy to discover it on a return trip back to one of our favorite spots.
Returning to familiar destinations in a different season provides new perspectives, with the added bonus of familiarity!
Plan A Single Event A Day
Another way we like to live in the present is by planning a single event per day. Recently, we decided to do this so that we could intentionally linger, and spend more time enjoying where we were, without any pressure to move onto the next big thing. We did this on our recent trip to the Olympic Peninsula, and we definitely didn’t break any hiking records! Instead, we sauntered about, got in-tune with nature, and spent a lot of time capturing images of smaller moments (water droplets on leaves, moss on a rock) that normally we would have passed by.
It feels good to change up our fast paced routine for a more appreciative, slower one every once in a while!
Add Another Day On To Your Trip, Just Because!
We often feel the need to pack out our vacation days with activities, just because we want to make the most of our time off. Try purposely planning a ‘no schedule’ day, where you can wake up and simply go where the day takes you. Use it as a sleep-in day in the middle of a busy schedule or tack it on at either end of a trip to rest before you head back home.
In a year where travel is far from a sure bet, Berty and I are grateful to love where we live. We love being in our element as we pursue our passion project, writing our photo book about the Pacific Northwest, and we hope this story can inspire you to find your own way to be in your element and enjoy 2021.
Shop the latest Grandview GTX Hiking Boots designed for the elements at Teva.com!