Sunday, December 02, 2007

Walk the Walk

Cascade Pass

I was just reading Backpacker Magazine and when I put down the journal to look at Sunday Scribblings the prompt was one word, “walk.” I had my theme all set out for me.
Lately, I feel walk-deprived. On my solo cross country road trip I hiked a little but had too many miles to drive daily to hike very far. It was just enough to whet my appetite for more.
My family started backpacking when I was a kid. We hiked the Cascade and Olympic Mountains of Washington, the Rockies of Canada and points south, and the Sierra Nevadas of California. I got altitude sickness in Tuolomne Meadows above Yosemite. I found Indian arrowheads and got stuck with porcupine quills in the interior of British Columbia. We were rained on, bitten by mosquitoes, lost our trail due to snow, lost our trail due to clear cutting and forded rivers on foot.
I experienced the charm of towns with names like 100 Mile House (British Columbia), small alpine lakes, freeze dried foods with names like Turkey Tetrazzini, and the incomparable flavor of blueberry pancakes made with berries picked on Mt. Baker (Washington). I’ve seen ice bergs on Berg Lake (Canadian Rockies), a hike that was notable for our running out of water on the trail up. I’ve carried my little brother in a Gerry Pack for miles. I learned how to string a backpack in the trees to keep the bears away and to speak loudly on the trail (also to keep the bears away). I once camped in the dust of an eruption of Mount St. Helens.
The last time I backpacked I was in graduate school. I hiked in Isle Royale National Park. The place and the hike were a treat although I injured my knee walking on the rocky trails. I had to use a stick for support on the hike back out. To me it was a sign that I was already beginning to get older and less resilient. I may have felt older but, looking in a mirror on the way home, I noticed that the stress lines in my face were gone. My one regret was not seeing or hearing the famous wolves of the park. It will just be that much more incentive to return.
Sometimes I wonder where this hiker part of me has gone. Am I too old to carry my belongings on my back? Do I need a softer bed or more elaborate foods? Or is it simply the demands of career and family? I hope the latter because my kids are growing up and I have learned to manage the career demands. So here’s to this summer or the next or the next. You will see me lacing up my boots, shouldering my pack and heading out.


Crafty Green Poet said...

oh this post made me want to walk America. We had a wonderful holiday in California when I was very young, I just about remember walking through the Sierra Nevadas

paisley said...

evolution seems to work in circles... there is no doubt it will someday come back to you.....

Rob Kistner said...

This is a wonderful post! You'll be trekking again,and loving it... I'm certain.

" speak loudly on the trail (also to keep the bears away)"

This line reminded me of an experience I had while trail walking Mt. Hood, near my home here in the Oregon Cascade foothills. When it was over, all I could do was exhale!

tumblewords said...

I'll travel through your words - hiking has been a past tense activity for a long time - but it's a pleasure to read about yours.

susan said...

I'm city girl, so it's always amazing to me to read experiences like you. Enjoyed.

Anonymous said...

You motivate me.... I've been to a few of the places you mentioned and would love to go again... thanks for the reminders!