Sometimes a trip sticks with you in such a significant way. Last year, we visited the Wallowa Mountains in eastern Oregon for our Hurricane Creek Field Lab. It was such a special time, and I’ve thought about it ever since. The landscape of eastern Oregon’s mountain ranges is so beautiful it’s hard to describe. The majesty of that wilderness as it’s laid out before you can make your knees weak. It’s diverse, too: at some points you’ll see breathtaking alpine peaks, and at others you’re deep under the forest’s canopy, surrounded by sweeping canyon banks. The terrain moves back and forth in such a way that you just want to hike and hike until you’re exhausted, soaking up every last ounce of the area’s magnificence along the way.
Even after an extended period away, I’ve been playing with my memories of Wallowa since I left. When the opportunity came to prepare this year’s release, I couldn’t wait to revisit the sights and smells of that special time. In making this Field Lab, I decided to use this longing as my guiding light. If I could find a way to craft a release that took me back to this magical time in the Wallowa Mountains, then I’d be satisfied. I set to work on the Field Lab, thinking deeply about my experiences in those rain-drenched forests of the Pacific Northwest.
Having done more than 50 miles of hiking during the trip, there were a few distinct elements that I really wanted this release to capture. When we think Pacific Northwest we think of the dampness, and on those days spent in the remote wilderness there was nothing like the smell of its wet forest floor. More than anything, that earthy, spicy scent would greet me every morning and not let go. Smelling it in this release reminds me of my time in Wallowa and the endless sea of green that’s found there.
Another part that stayed with me was all the sticky pine needles we’d walk through on the trails each day. The Wallowa Mountains are covered in Noble Firs, Engelmann Spruce, Ponderosa Pines, and other conifers, which means the area is drenched with the soft smells these evergreens bring. It’s such a treat to have them fill your lungs as you’re working your way up a pass. I swear the delicate energy their sweetness brings about can lighten your load on these tough treks.
Finally, there were those occasional spurts of citrusy sap. Wallowa’s damp conditions make for a lot of naturally felled trees, and the sap ebbing from these had this prickly scent that would jump right into your nostrils and make a home there. It’s a mesmerizing mix of a heavy, drowsy citrus that doesn’t seem possible until you sniff it. It brings such a distinctly pleasant presence to this release’s bouquet.
While we often focus these Trail Notes on our experiences connecting with nature (for good reason), it’s also important we drive home the craft and stewardship that goes into our releases. The philosophy behind our artistry is what makes this work meaningful to us, and we hope you appreciate the care we take in preparing each release. The Wallowa Mountains stuck with me well after my time there, and I hope the strength of that connection shines through in our Hurricane Creek Field Lab. With any luck, it will get you itching to set out on an adventure of your own.