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Happy National Take A Hike (Birth)day!

North America

Rattlesnake Ledge Hike

In Partnership with Athleta

Happy Birthday To Me!

I’ve never been big on birthdays. At least not my own. I’m not really sure why. Too much attention. Too much fuss. But most likely it’s just the idea of getting older that doesn’t sit well with me. Thing is, I’m just not very good at adulting. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. And commitments of any sort have never been a strong suit of mine. Even though I technically passed the legal benchmark for adulthood a long time ago, in my mind I’m forever 22 (because 21 is already taken).

In an attempt to avoid this irritating yearly reminder that time stops for no one, I generally put some effort into finding ways to be conveniently out of town, or otherwise unavailable on November 17th. I suppose my strategy is that if I don’t celebrate my birthday, then it never happens. But this year, I forgot. The months flew by, and all of a sudden it was November, and despite the fact that I’d only been home a few days over the past couple months, my calendar was inconceivably blank on my birthday. Not only would I be home, but I had nothing planned at all.

Panic stricken by this devastating oversight, I snatched my phone to double check my schedule, only to come across an unopened email from Athleta regarding an upcoming sustainability campaign. Now for a little context. Athleta has always been one of my favorite athletic apparel companies. Not only are their clothes super comfy and flattering, Athleta is all about inspiring women and girls (normal, every day ones of all shapes and sizes) to realize their limitless potential – not just the usual pro athletes and fitness models. As a teenager and young adult, their catalogues were one of the few that made me feel inspired rather than inadequate. Point is, even before I opened the email I felt some “fangirl” excitement creeping over me.

I read the opening line: “This November, in honor of National Take a Hike Day, we’re tapping you to outfit yourself in Athleta’s new, highly sustainable outerwear for a day of hiking!” In all honesty, I had never heard of National Take A Hike Day before. Maybe it’s new, or maybe it’s because when you’re an outdoor adventure photographer any day might be hike day. Either way, my interest was piqued, and I wanted to know more. When was this fantastic excuse to take a hike?! And then, I saw it. NOVEMBER 17th.

Just like that, all of my problems were solved. National Take a Hike Day and my birthday were one in the same! How ironic, or should I say, coincidental? I think I know which one Alanis Morissette would say! But I digress, this isn’t about Alanis Morissette, this is about me, my day. It was perfect. I now had a plan for my birthday – FOREVER.

Rattlesnake Ridge Hike

A Day to Celebrate

It was 5:00 AM and still dark outside when my alarm went off. I’m far from a morning person, but if there was any day worth waking up early for, this was it. National Take A Hike Day! To my great surprise, even at this ungodly hour my family insisted on joining me. I’d assured them it wasn’t necessary, but they wouldn’t be dissuaded. So off we went, into the darkness toward North Bend and Rattlesnake Ledge.

When we got to the trailhead there were already a number of cars parked. I wasn’t entirely surprised. It was November in Washington after all, and sunny days were far and few between this time of year. But as luck would have it, this just happened to be one of those rare clear days. Perhaps Mother Nature was also celebrating.

We cruised up the trail at a comfortable speed. The hike up to Rattlesnake Ledge consists primarily of a series of switchbacks through dense new growth forest. I was enjoying the outfit that Athleta had let me pick out just for the occasion. I couldn’t help but think back to when I was a little kid and every year on my birthday I would wear a new outfit to school. Plus, something just feels right about wearing clothes that are sustainably produced while you’re out enjoying nature.

As part of Athleta’s sustainability campaign I learned a lot about their business practices and what it really means to be a B Corporation. By becoming a benefit corporation, Athleta has legally committed to being a force for good by placing people and the planet right up there with profit. Accordingly, Athleta has been working to aggressively increase its use of sustainable materials. In fact, across their insulated outerwear line, Athleta is keeping more than 460,000 bottles out of landfills this year!

We made it to the top of Rattlesnake Ledge just in time to watch the sun crest over the Cascades, lighting up Rattlesnake Lake down below. For a few minutes the world glowed gold with the new day and everything seemed to stand still. Except my hair. That was blowing everywhere. The view was beautiful, and I was glad my family was there to share the experience. We watched as the sun changed the landscape, took photos, and enjoyed a few sleepy laughs before heading down. On the way home we stopped at the Issaquah Cafe for brunch. I ordered a hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles (for the kids, of course). Maybe birthdays at home weren’t so bad after all.

Birthday Photos!

This post was created in partnership with Athleta to celebrate National Take A Hike Day. I only work with brands that I personally use, and love. As always, all ideas and opinions expressed are entirely my own. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! I truly appreciate your support. – jess

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  1. Kirtan P. says:

    Happy Belated Birthday, Jess! Great shots, can’t wait to visit North Bend and Rattlesnake Ledge, especially during sunrise.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you so much Kirtan! Really appreciate that. It’s a really great quick sunrise location. Try to pick a day that’s not too windy. It’s much more enjoyable! 🙂

  2. Tiffany Cochran says:

    Today is also my birthday, 32 years young! 😉 Cheers, Jess! – Tiffany

  3. Mr. Fusswinkel says:

    I know how you feel!!! I hate my birthday too, mainly because it was and some degree is an ugly reminder that another year has gone bye and I haven’t moved on in my life or accomplish the things others have done in their live. Some examples would be graduating university, getting married, moving out of the parents house, etcetera, etcetera. Over the years of therapy and self reflections I have discovered that it was or is more being ashamed for not doing those thing in my life. I was afraid or that I fear, fear it’s self. That’s why I hate more hated my birthday do so many years. For the record I have accomplished the things mentioned above and I don’t hate my birthday as much. It more of a dislike now, …trailing feeling of the past i guess you could say.

    Sorry if my post does not make sense, I’m not a good writer due to learning disabilities, …wow I have never mentioned that only a very select few in my life know about my learning disabilities. That it feels great to say it liberating!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Your post makes perfect sense! And you are definitely not alone in the way you feel – especially in this age of social media where it is so easy to compare our lives and accomplishments to other people. It can be a constant reminder of the things we have not achieved. Anyway, I’m very glad to hear that you are happier now, and I hope your birthdays get better every year from here on out!

  4. Kim says:

    I’m happy I got to spend your birthday hiking in the dark up to Rattlesnake Ledge to experience that beautiful view with you! I’m so happy you have such a passion for the outdoors, I guess your dad and I did something right! Mom

  5. Sally says:

    Cute blog Jess! I knew there was a reason I liked Athelta clothes so much too.

  6. Thanks for sharing such an inspirational journey (your whole journey, not just this one)!

  7. Love this girl! Thanks for being a beautiful light in this world. I’m glad you enjoyed your birthday doing something you love 🙂

  8. I’ve seen so many beautiful photos of you in some of the most awe inspiring places in the world but these are some of my favorites. I love the morning glow and the natural rim light from the rising sun. I love the energy and movement in the photo, the chaos. A majority of the photos that I’ve seen of you are "picture perfect". Everything perfectly positioned, every hair in place, every fine detail meticulously poured over to create an impeccable image of sheer elegance. Every image set in a gorgeous location with you somewhere in the frame. My attention is always torn between the landscape and you. These particular images show me you. And not just photos of you, but more of who you are. And for that, they’re my favorites. And to know they were shot on Rattlesnake Ridge just makes them that much better. Compared to your other travel locations, there is nothing too unique or extravagant about this place, just a simple hike to a bluff in the beautiful PNW. A hike that I frequent in the summer for evening runs after work and one of my favorites in the Seattle area. To me, these photos make you human as opposed to a perfectly painted canvas. I’m glad I found them.
    Sounds like you had a wonderful birthday! Now I’ll think of you on every National ‘Take A Hike Day’

    • Jess Dales says:

      Wow Josh! This is honestly one of the most thoughtful comments I think I’ve ever received. It’s funny because you’re really pretty spot on with everything you talk about. I was fortunate to travel to a lot of amazing places this past year, and shoot with some very talented photographers, but this is the blog that I’m most proud of. It won’t get the most views, or comments, but it holds a very special place in my heart. It was a wonderful morning with my family, and I think that level of comfort I have with them really shines through the photos. Thanks so much for taking the time to write to me – it made my morning. Have a wonderful weekend!

  9. Burak Kurt says:

    Jess, you are amazing! I have never seen a person, like you, travelling around the world, protecting nature and sharing good vibes as much as photos. I look forward your photos on instagram. Thanks in advance for your sharing.


    Instagram: burakkurt.bk

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Hi, I’m Jess, an outdoor enthusiast based in Seattle. I grew up exploring the Pacific Northwest, and early on was infected with the travel bug. I tried to suppress my wanderlust in pursuit of a traditional career path, but after a short stint as a lawyer, I left the confines of my office to get back in touch with my roots. Now, I wander the world taking photos, making memories, and sharing my love for travel with others!

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