Finding Your Place of Peace

By: Cierra Warness

Watching golden rays of light flicker across the placid waters of the Puget Sound as the winter sun slowly vanishes behind the Olympic Mountains, I am finally at peace.

A short hike down a steep, dirt covered path through a thick forest of old growth pines has lead me to this tranquil piece of heaven. A small cove tucked away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It is a place to reconnect with nature and find myself once again. Teddy Bear Cove is located on the waters of Bellingham Bay. A short drive South on scenic Chuckanut Drive in Bellingham Washington brings you to the beginning of a rejuvenating experience with the Great Pacific Northwest. Because of the remoteness of the area, parking is minimal and sometimes hard to find. However, exiting your vehicle instantly immerses you in the many wonders of the Puget Sound as frustration begins to melt away. Salty sea air fills your lungs as you take in your first breath. An adventure waits! In the distance a narrow dirt trail peeks through a canopy of deep green. Approaching the head of the trail, a labyrinth of switchbacks appears dropping down through the forest floor. Descending, each step upon the dirty path draws you down into the beauty of the forest. Surrounded by towering ancient trees. The lapping of water is a faint sound. With each step down, the sounds of waves washing upon the shore become more audible with each turn. As the forest opens toward the sea, golden rays of sun shine illuminate light upon the rugged dirt path. The end of the trail draws near, as glimpses of shimmering water are in view. A train track stretching for miles in either direction is the only obstacle. Cautiously crossing this dangerous barrier, a rocky beach greets you on the other side. At last, in front of you lies Teddy Bear Cove, a small and secluded getaway from the chaos of the world. Driftwood logs line the beach offering a spot to relax by the water’s edge, or climb a few stairs and take in a captivating view from the top of a steep rock ledge towering over the cold blue water. This area is shown in the photo above (Captured by myself, from on top of the rock ledge). However, the true beauty of this spot cannot be fully captured by a camera. The subtle sounds of life in this marine environment combined with the cool salty air and the serenity of this location makes Teddy Bear Cove a destination that can only be truly appreciated in person.

As a stressed out college student who occasionally needs somewhere to relax and breathe, Teddy Bear Cove is just the place. It serves as the perfect location to take a break from the overwhelming routine of a college life. Where you are able to just stop and appreciate the beauty of life that we sometimes seem to forget about. As said by the famous Indian author and spiritual master, Amit Ray,

“Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.”

Puppy Playing fetch on the beach, Photo by Jack Anderson

(Meditation: Insights and Inspirations). In other words, going outside and appreciating the world around you is the best way to find some peace of mind. College students are often stressed out as they struggle to manage time and money. Between attending classes, homework and jobs, the joys in life are easily forgotten. Sometimes maintaining a social life can feel overwhelming. Discovering yourself amongst the chaos is exhausting. It essential to take some time to clear our minds and to stay sane in this insane world. Bring a journal and jot down some deep thoughts, doodle, read a book, watch the ducks or even play fetch with your dog. If you are looking for the simplest form of relaxation, just sit back and enjoy the sun setting over the water with the silhouettes of the San Juan Islands in the distance. Instantly feel weight lifted from your shoulders, busy thoughts float away and peace of mind once again returns.

The picturesque view that Teddy Bear Cove offers is one of the many aspects that sets it apart from other places you may go to relax. Looking out from the small beach or from the rock ledge, you witness the wonders of nature happening all around you. Each visit to this lookout offers a unique yet calming experience. You could observe the beautiful diving ducks peacefully floating in the bay as they search for their dinner or people watch as adventurous souls climb the twisted Pacific Madrona trees. Many visitors relax by throwing sticks for their playful dogs often wincing when the animal returns splashing them with water. Sometimes it is just fun to scan the clear cold waters looking for new and interesting sea creatures. A trip report from the Washington Trails Association concludes,

“Just make sure to go at low tide to enjoy combing the beach. By the time we left we had counted 71 starfish and a few crabs.”

Pacific Madrone Tree, Photo By Jack Anderson

(wta.org). According to this advice it is best to visit the cove when the tides are low. If you search hard enough you might even observe the fascinating purple starfish that line Teddy Bear Cove.

An aspect that sets Teddy Bear Cove apart from other trails and hikes is the accessibility and difficulty level. If you are looking for an escape from your college campus, I would recommend something that is easy to access and wont take up too much of your precious time. There are several beautiful and peaceful hikes to be discovered along Chuckanut Drive and throughout the Bellingham area. Many of the local hikes vary from 2 to 13 miles long. Teddy Bear Cove is less than a mile long. The entire hike takes about 10–15 minutes to get from the head of the trail to Teddy Bear Cove. This makes it a perfect quick get away from the chaotic campus life. The trail is steep and uneven and moderately strenuous. I love the outdoors but only find myself on hikes occasionally. So, I’m not the most experienced hiker. But I remember hiking down the rugged path for the first time. Excited from all the rave reviews I heard about Teddy Bear Cove previously. And thinking that this hike was the perfect hike for a beginner like myself. Heading down the trail toward Teddy Bear Cove is pretty easy downhill walk. Heading back up is significantly more difficult. The uphill is steep and strenuous, but it is well worth the effort. The relaxation and meditative environment that Teddy Bear Cove offers is worth every step.

Whether you are a one of the many stressed out college students like myself, or even a work person, sitting in an office chair all day. One of the most important things is to make it a priority to get outdoors and find your place of peace. Getting some fresh air and reconnecting with your environment is proven to lower stress and anxiety levels. Finding a place of peace and tranquility serves a purpose for everyone. Each time I visit my cove, I get an overwhelming feeling of peace and comfort and worries begin to fade away. Reconnecting with nature instantly feeds the soul with energy needed to make it through a busy week at college. Teddy Bear Cove may not be the most ideal place to visit on a typical gray and rainy Washington day, however, when the sun is shining this spot is magic. You can’t help but instantly become relaxed as you listen to the water, smell the fresh air and feel the warmth of the sun shining down on your skin. Next time you need a place to escape the overwhelming reality of the world, go outside, explore and find your place of peace.