Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Pacific North-Wet

The summer-long string of sunny, perfect weather days that we enjoyed in the Pacific Northwest from June through September is a thing of the past now, replaced -- as we Goretex-wearing inhabitants of course knew would happen -- by the drip-drip of the fall rains. 

Oh, and fog!... I must not forget fog! Though it presently happens not to be raining as I look out my windows  and type these words,  it IS foggy, and I can hear a fog horn coming from the lighthouse on Puget Sound three miles to the north; and a deeper, more symphonic basso horn from a ferry dock three miles to the south.

Not that I’m complaining about the wet weather, mind you.  The huge trees and the mosses and ferns that are part of life in my neck of the woods are green byproducts of fall, winter and spring rain and fog.  The summer dry weather we experienced this year was actually a little too perfect for my taste.

I walk around the place where we live and I make pictures of raindrops on our clotheslines, or of Tibetan prayer flags hanging from our trees that I suspect are happily drinking in the misty fog, and I feel at peace in this new, damp season.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Golden Years

I’ll turn 60 this week, and I decided to mark that milestone by not acting my age.

Three friends and I headed for the mountains last Sunday (and I might add that my friends are even older than I am.)  We drove to a trailhead in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, shouldered daypacks, and walked up. And up. And up. By day’s end we had covered 13 miles, gaining (and of course later losing) three thousand feet of elevation.

We hiked like super-athletes, barely breaking a sweat.  Coaches for the US Olympic Marathon team should have been there to check our resting heart rates and to interview us to learn our training secrets.

My goodness we hiked like finely-tuned human machines!

And so to AARP and other Senior Citizen groups I say: “Send your Golden Years magazines and your Retirement Investment Opportunity junk mail ads to somebody else. I plan to spend my 60th year leaving forty-year-olds behind me in the dust."

Sixty is the new thirty!


I joke of course.

My friends and I did sweat on our hike -- a little. 

And 60 is probably just the new 59.9.

The memorable thing about the hike my friends and I did won’t be how fast we moved, or whether we felt in-shape, or even that we did the trip on the week of my 60th birthday.

What we WILL remember is the staggering beauty of the place we visited...the knock-our-socks-off, electric color of the larch trees. And the new, fresh snow on the high country landscape.

We’ll remember the good conversations we had during the drive, and at dinner after the hike.

And I’m sure that my friends and I will all agree that this Hiking Life is a freaking perfect way to spend our Golden Years.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Seeing Summits

The mountains that capture my eyes and my imagination tend to be of the severe, sharp-summitted sort: Points of a rocky knife, piercing the sky.  Mt. Shuksan (above) appeals to me, while Mt. Rainier (below) strikes me as a tad too gentle-looking and, well, rounded.

I’ve been wondering why this is -- why do some peaks quicken my pulse but others do not? -- and I’ve decided that it is a Climber-Thing.

Simply put: I seem the be visually lured to peaks that scare the crap out of me.

Mostly what I do when I venture into the mountains would be called hiking, not climbing, but apparently I’ve made my way to just enough summits that my brain now can’t help itself. I look at a peak and I begin to visualize climbing routes: That glacier would lead up to that ridge, and the ridge might get me to the top...

Sheesh. My feet might be on the ground but my head is often in the clouds.