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Mountains v. Ocean

Updated: Feb 1

Over the years, with thousands of miles of trail beneath my feet, I have been asked so many times whether I would choose mountains or ocean. In Alone in Wonderland, I hazarded to say, whichever is in front or beneath me right now. "I have always felt a kinship with the ocean, and the mountains are a relatively new player in my life. There is no comparison, they are apples and oranges, both amazing in their own right." Standing there on the slopes of Mt Rainier beside an alpine lake, I posed the question, "how can you be present in such a beautiful place and not love it more than anything else? It is real and encompassing, and is there any greater love than presence?"

This question still comes up often, even within my own heart. I leave my home in Colorado to swim in the ocean, and my mind immediately begins dreaming of a life by the sea. I stand at 14000 feet overlooking the endless Rocky Mountains and wonder what life would be like without knowing what that feeling.

I brought this question to my writing group, an intrepid selection of strong, outdoorsy writers, for a friendly challenge to write and share. They immediately split down the middle. It seemed as though they each knew exactly which side they were on, making me feel even more confused in my own inability to choose. The whole week, I couldn't decide which side to land on and eventually wrote a short poem that is as indecisive as I was.

Please enjoy the following pieces written by the women of Rugged Outdoors Women Write:

Mountains v. Ocean by Christine Reed

Sometimes I am the mountain.

Strong, proud, and immoveable.

I do not bow to the wind.

I do not change for anyone else.

I am rugged, radiant, reaching upward.

I was here before we were all born.

I will be here after.

Sometimes I am the ocean.

Waves crashing one after the next.

The rain makes me stronger, wilder.

I am constant change.

Bringing always something new.

I am salty, soulful, soothing.

I am born and born and born again.

Find Christine on Instagram and TikTok @ruggedoutdoorswoman

Read her memoir Alone in Wonderland for more stories about mountains.

Flow by Tatiana Corbitt

Ocean bubbles

Sea foam green

Beachgrass, golden

Powerful weeds

Towering waves

and a fatal undertow

As the moon does wax and wane

Her tide does ebb and flow

Whooshing breaths

with a grey-white froth

On the horizon, blue-tinted waters

Refract glittering diamonds

Against a satin-blue sash

An ever-changing form

With the scent of algae blooms

Grains of wet sand

Cement to my feet

I'm sinking into tidepools

Stand still too long

and I'll be washed away

or become driftwood

Buried in shallow, sandy graves

Tatiana is a writer and artist living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She graduated with her M.S. in Applied Biological Sciences in 2019 and is currently working on her debut novel. Her writing is frequently published on


I must word spar against Tatiana, who has a fabulous name.

In my mind, Tatiana is a rugged mountain goddess warrior who could kick my ass in sentences, paragraphs, and narrative.

She is outfitted in leaves and leather, muscles covered in dirt, and scars scattered about displaying her fearlessness and fortitude.

Her bow is strapped to her body; the arrow affixed with her ideas.

She pulls against the resistance of the tight string with her strong fingers and releases her theories, interpretations, and objectives to the world.

The bow shoots through the sky, covering time and space.

And the world listens.

But she’s not done.

The trail is slick, the air is cold and thin in higher elevation.

She climbs to higher ground, slipping on precarious scree, noticing the blood streaming down her leg.

She could turn around, she knows that.

But she’s not done.

Her thoughts and words help ease the burden of the alpine wilderness, and the wild harshness of her soul.

Not looking too much forward, and never looking back, Tatiana reaches into her mind to gather the next chapter.

She loads her bow, pulls back, and lets go.

Looking down, the rock is shaped like a heart.

Looking forward, the leaf is shaped like a heart.

Looking up, the cloud is shaped like a heart.

Human hearts all over smile with her words.

Tatiana the mountain dweller, doesn’t need a compass.

And she is not done.

Marty Cowan is the author of Table To Trail a collection of plant-based recipes for day hikers. You can find her on Instagram @tabletotrail

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