Point Defiance Park

I feel like, at times, people can easily get caught up in the blatant grandeur of the words ‘adventure’, ‘journey’, or ‘expedition’. Don’t get me wrong, these words are fantastic and I’m inspired by them just as much as the next person. But often, when we consider the weight of these words and allow them to govern our dreams and aspirations, in comparison to our actual lives, we can quickly become powerfully discouraged. It’s as if, in one moment, those words are lifting us up, challenging us to pursue the unknown, but in the next, we feel guilty for not doing so nearly as often as we want to. We’re left, rather stuck, in a difficult limbo between our goals and our realities.

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The obligatory photographer foot shot; post-bike-ride and pre-hike.

For the longest time I was plagued by this condition, until I realized something that’s shaped the way I think about those aforementioned words. It goes like this: even though those terms do have dictionary definitions, that doesn’t have to be how you choose to define them. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

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A beautiful example of the Northwestern rainforest climate; a tree completely engulfed in undisturbed and lavish green moss.

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The famous ‘Five Mile Drive’ that provides drivers, bikers, and hikers access to Owen Beach, Fort Nisqually, and the rest of Point Defiance Park.

Tacoma’s surrounding locales are legitimately insane. On the west side you have the Pacific Ocean and the Olympics; on the north you have British Columbia; on the east you have Rainier, Baker, and the Cascades; and on the south you have Hood. Honestly, even thinking about it makes me feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven. So, when I get the itch to venture outside, that’s often where my mind goes. However, that poses a problem because it’s a little harder to get to Rainier or the ocean than one might expect; all you Tacoma natives know this.

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A staircase at Owen Beach.

So, a guy like me has got to get his fix somehow, right? That’s where Point Defiance Park comes in. At a modest five miles from campus, Point Defiance Park is easily accessible by bike, bus, or, if you’re really in dire straights, you could get on some hiking boots and walk it out. Point Defiance, or as most call it ‘Point D.’, is actually a city park, but it comes off as a state park when all of its amenities are taken into consideration. Not only does it provide beautiful vistas as well as exhibit some of the native flora and fauna, but it also has hiking trails, a beach, a marina, a ferry dock, a zoo and aquarium, a preserved fur trading post called ‘Fort Nisqually’, a pagoda, a zen garden, boat rentals, a restaurant… the list goes on. In all, Point Defiance has consistently allowed me to enjoy the Pacific Northwest outdoors in very attainable and practical ways.

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A large freighter floats through the Sound, into a wall of rain, en route to the Tacoma docks.

All of this being said, Point Defiance is definitely not Rainier, nor Hood, nor the Pacific Ocean, but it does provide me with enough adventure for a weeknight and it has helped me to realize that there’s not only beauty in the big, bountiful, and boisterous, but also in the small, nuanced, and quiet. Point D. has helped me come to know that it’s not the destination that defines an adventure, but rather the adventurer. Being able to find glory in the minutiae is, in my mind, a key characteristic of a great outdoorsman or woman.

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The inside of a small garage in the marina that I occupied for some much needed rain coverage.

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A small boat moored in the marina.

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A receding cloud line played backdrop to a group of gulls circling the marina.

Keep this in mind when you are feeling a little down about not climbing Rainier over fall break or kayaking to Portland for spring break, and consider checking out Point Defiance, or even Todd Field. Like I said, you define your adventure.

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The color-changing coastline amidst heavy rainfall.

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Two fisherman defy the tempest in order to procure baitfish off the dock.

Happy trails,

Colton Born

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About Colton Born

Allo! My name is Colton Born, I'm a Freshman here at the University, and I hail from the fertile, forested, and frozen lands of Central Minnesota. I really dig nature and am a passionate outdoorsman. Whenever I'm free, you'll find me pounding a trail, cruising with my bike, slaying the pow, appreciating a tree, floating a creek... yeah, I like being outside. My content here is focused on capturing the outdoor culture at UPS as well as documenting all of the exciting ways students can get off campus and into something challenging, beautiful, and epic in the outdoors. If you have any recommendations for potential trips, or just wanna talk, feel free to email me: cborn@pugetsound.edu! Happy trails!