Recently I shot with photographer Tim McGuire for his Human Nature Connection project. We had planned on shooting for a couple hours on Tiger Mountain and ended up hiking and shooting there and then driving over to Little Mt Si for several more hours. An amazing day.

I was drawn to Tim’s project because, as much as I enjoy my time in the gym, nature has often been my savior in life, giving me a chance to sweat, breath and open my mind. I feel at peace there and seek it out it times of stress. I’ve included an except from my book BACK ON THE COURT about one of those times. To see more of Tim’s Human Nature photos go to Tim McGuire Images.

excerpt from BACK ON THE COURT

I can feel the tension that’s been building over the past months escape with every mile and every tear. The tears are all but gone by the time I reach the lodge at Paradise and when I see that the snow pack is low enough for me to reach with a short hike, I gather myself, and head up the mountain. There is something in nature that for me helps relieve tension, and at the same time helps me feel closer to Mark. My dad has climbed Mt. Rainer many times and grew up near the Austrian Alps. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to the mountains, to nature. It’s in my blood. The love of nature, of fresh air and pine trees, is a part of who I am.

I head up the nearest trail. The hike is steep, hard for me to maneuver with my injured leg. I like it. When I reach the snow there are two young snowboarders practicing jumps. They have hiked up with their boards and built themselves a ramp. I make a miniature snowman out of snowballs, take a self-portrait with the timer on my camera, and then find a dry rock where I can watch the snowboarders from a distance. I think of Mark. He has been gone, dead, for two whole years. It has been two years since I held his face in my hands and kissed his lips. Two years since we held one another tight and made love. The what-ifs, are unthinkable.

Swallowing hard, I lower my face to my knees and cry. When I look up the snowboarders have gone and I am alone on the mountain. The tears have washed through the depths of my soul and I sit in silence as the sun moves low in the sky. When I begin my slow descent down the trail, I am at peace.