Finding Neverland on Jumbo

I hiked Mount Bradley (Jumbo) Sunday, July 22. By myself but not alone. There were many groups on the trail. It almost seemed like a community event. The trailhead is in the middle of a residential area on Fifth Street on Douglas Island. The trail was beautiful, it had a little bit of everything; forest, waterfall, muskeg, bridges and magical alpine lakes.


It was sunny. 80 degrees. Ran up with tennis shoes, a water bottle and a Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate bar (900 calories is perfect for adventures). I underestimated the mountain and the heat. I was expecting a quick hike like Mount Roberts.

At the top there were a few people eating snacks and enjoying the view. Joining them was a raven that seemed too hot to close his mouth. Don’t know what was going on with that guy but he didn’t seem to be scared of the people very close to him. Perhaps he was old and wise and knew none of the nature people would hurt him. He looked like one of the robots from Disneyland.

I had four or five hours entirely in my own head space and I thought extensively on the subject of growing up.

I turn 22 in August and one of the biggest themes in my life right now is the defining separation between child and adult. I don’t think anyone actually feels like a grown up. They just suddenly find themselves in a position to pretend like one. They missed out on Neverland.

That place, on a star, second to the right, where no one grows up. Maybe it’s not about actually growing up but more about how we tend to lose creative ideas, spontaneity and whimsical thinking.

Granted I don’t know anything about raising children. But recently I have seen kids in public places be disciplined for running around, making noise and climbing on things. This is a tough subject because I know that children need to learn respect for others and also parents are afraid of their kids getting hurt. But why can’t we stand on the chairs in a doctor’s office or run around the halls of the state office building? This seems restrictive and backwards to me. Shouldn’t we try to stimulate our young (I’m not talking about RedBull and candy) instead of teaching them to sit still in a chair all day then come home and crack open a cold one in front of the TV?

I’m feeling passionate about this subject because of the idea that once you’re in your 20s, fun means going out to get drinks. That feels like a waste of social friend time and brain potential. I guess what I don’t know won’t hurt me.

So please go find your own Neverland. Grow old with patience and flexibility not always having to be practical and stubborn. Keep finding fun. Get your kids out into nature. Find the “you” you wanted to be when you believed in pirates and mermaids …and I’ll meet you there, on the second star to the right.



• California-born and Alaska-bred, Gabe Donohoe has taken photos daily for the past five years. He is currently a student of the University of Alaska Southeast’s Outdoor Studies program. His photo archives can be seen on “Rainforest Photos” photo blog publishes every other Friday in the Empire’s Outdoors section.




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