These are my woods. I felt an undeniable sense of homecoming immediately upon moving to Truckee a mere month and a half ago, despite never having lived here full time.

From a young age, I grew up backpacking in Desolation Wilderness (riding along in the kiddie backpack prior to carrying my own), and every summer we’d spend time at my grandparents’ campsite in Euer Valley. Then, when I was 10 years old, my family purchased a plot of land on Lake Dulzura in Soda Springs alongside three other Davis families and built a cabin.

I feel like half my childhood was spent up here, yet I never truly understood the context of the progress and problems of the greater area within which I was bug-catching, kayaking, and exploring in a troupe of sisters and friends. Relocating to Truckee to pursue journalism has meant educating myself quickly about the comings and goings of the Tahoe/Truckee area, and I’ve begun forging a connection with the buzzing of human activity intermingled with the busy wild woods.

For example, it’s been an ongoing process getting up to speed on the local housing crunch, both from my personal perspective as a housing hunter and as a journalist. See a perspective on renter’s rights in a My Shot opinion piece, p. 12 and check out Moonshine’s award-winning Housing Crisis series online. And I’m learning to tolerate the traffic, when I’ve never been a driver and am in fact only now in the process of finally getting my driver’s license. And on the flip side, there’s the friendly feeling of being asked about my story in every shop I enter, and the immediate, nodding understanding I get when I speak of arranging my life as best I can so I can get a dog.

As I adjust to full-time, small-mountain-town human society, I am comforted by my knowledge that places like Castle Peak, that I’ve hiked so many times, or Secret Harbor on Lake Tahoe, where we used to camp with family friends, are right around the corner. Forests like ours — quiet, soft green rolling hills, expansive canyons and mountain ranges, raging rivers and babbling brooks — they are as much my home as a rented bedroom. Many of my neighbors are bears and chipmunks of the species I’m familiar with, and I’m confident that I know the best ways to calmly react in wild encounters. Read about bears, here, and local ladies protecting the mountain bluebird, here.

As local pathways like the Tahoe-Pyramid Trail, the East Shore Trail, and the Big Chief Trail reach completion (see News Briefs, here, for updates), we’re gaining more access to interface with the wild. Check out how some rad locals interact with nature, on horseback, here, and over glassy water, here. But more wild interactions bring more responsibility to reflect on our relationship with nature and protect our forest friends for the long haul.

We came from the forests and the wild places, and something of that connection remains and comes out as instinctual awareness when we return to them. I feel it in returning to the woods of my youth, that part of being human is about protecting and respecting the other creatures of the forest.