Life had become overwhelming for Gabrielle Sales. The East Coast native was going to college full-time, working, and trying to heal from heartbreak. To put it mildly, she was burned out.
“I felt lost. I was overcoming a tough period in my life,” she said.
She had thought life would lay out a certain way, that she would work in a specific job and she would stay in her home state, but it wasn’t working for her. A big change was what she needed, and change was on the horizon.
Her parents had moved to Surprise, Arizona a year before, with a view of the White Tank Mountains from their house. The desert was such a different place than what Sales was used to, that at first, her idea didn’t make sense. But, she decided to go for it.
Out of a gut feeling, she moved to the west valley to live with her parents. She had no plans, no work lined up. The spontaneity of it all was exciting at times. In a big way, Arizona could be the fresh start she really needed.
“I was going to open myself up to the possibility of new changes,” Sales explained.
Sales had a lot of time to reflect. At times she felt lonely for her old life. But the future held so many possibilities, too. In her heart, she knew she had a lot to learn.
With so many feelings going through her, Sales looked to those White Tank Mountains just minutes away from her parents’ house. Something about simply looking at them inspired her to do something she hadn’t done in years.
“I went running outside during the peak of sunrise,” she recalled. “I looked up a mile in and I saw the glorious beauty of the White Tank Mountains.” The cactus, the desert flowers, trees, the lizards, the birds, the lay of the land—it all spoke to her in a very profound way.
That experience would change the course of her life and put her on a very different path than before. “I ran almost every morning in those first two months; and just by looking at the White Tank Mountains, it motivated me to keep going.”
For Sales, the White Tank Mountains marked a new beginning of a journey to find herself. With self-love and self-development as the focus, she began incorporating fitness and wellness in her life, fulfilling herself with more knowledge, honing her skills for a future career, and learning what finding your passion really is and using that energy in a healthy way.
In January 2019, she signed up to do the #52HikeChallenge. In the process, she realized hiking was a passion of hers.
“Some of my earliest hikes in the challenge were in the White Tanks. I’ve photographed and written blog content around the White Tanks, including a popular guide to the Waterfall Trail of White Tank Mountains.” She completed the #52HikeChallenge in January 2020, some of which are included on her adventure travel blog, From One Girl to One World.
Even after hiking many other spots, Sales finds herself returning to the White Tanks, and not just because it’s close by. The area is spread out for miles, from Surprise to Buckeye, so there are lots of opportunities to enjoy its beauty. Plus, there is just something about the White Tanks that is healing.
“You can just feel that the White Tanks is different when you step in,” she said.
That’s why she hopes the area will be preserved for many years to come, so others can follow their own journeys, and find themselves in the beautiful wilderness. Conservation can help ensure that ecosystems are healthy and functional, she explained, and that it protects lands for many future generations to thrive in and enjoy. The White Tanks can be beautiful memories for many.
“I’m sure we all want to continue to breathe and enjoy fresh air to keep our health aligned and see how beautiful the plants that grow there and leave nothing but footprints on these trails,” she said.
“I’m grateful that the White Tanks exists to bring healing, hope, and belonging, to whomever it is and no matter where you came from. It doesn’t care about your past and no matter where you explore in the White Tanks, you will always get that dose of nature.”