GIFFORD PINCHOT NATIONAL FOREST ?
? The annual Rainbow Family Gathering officially kicked off today in Skamania County with thousands of outdoor enthusiasts and counterculture activists setting up camp for the seven-day event.
Participants danced, sung and greeted each other with a warm salute of ?Welcome Home? inside the mud-covered Skookum Meadows area. Attendees walked as far as five miles with their personal belongings before reaching the main campgrounds.
Since 1972, the Rainbow Family, which has no official leaders or members, has held events in national forests across America during July. This year?s event in Washington runs from today until next Thursday.
Attendees said the event provided them opportunities to leave behind their daily grind, pray for world peace and bask in nature?s beauty. The gathering included people from across the continental United States and Canada.
Officials with Gifford Pinchot National Forest said they expected more than 10,000 people to attend the gathering.
20,000 are there already with another 20,000 expected.