Wednesday, October 3, 2012

who i've become

The sunny days just keep on coming, one after the next.  It's “Summer Overtime”, as I like to call it.  Thinking back to my childhood, there are only a few times I can remember Septembers and Octobers being so bright, warm and wonderful in the Northwest.  Even the trees are slow to turn this year, as if they too, are refusing to let go of the season.  It’s been fantastic and has helped me get very close to reaching my hiking goals for my new book.  Despite the warm weather, the elk bulls are out bugling down the trails, hollering for mates and chasing elk cows around backcountry meadows.  Rivers which usually are roaring are just trickles, dew clings to the fall foliage until the warmth of the day dries the leaves and sunsets burst with brilliant colors concocted from smoky air mixed with low-sun hues.

My feet have never looked so bad, my backpack has never been so dirty and my legs have never felt so strong.  There were times when I doubted this goal was obtainable, then complete joy when I realized it was.  There were times when I felt lonely (up with a twist of isolation) mile after quiet mile.  
There were times, deep in the forest, when my shoe’s laces broke, when a crown popped out of my mouth, when I struggled to find the trail through brambles of berries which cut up my legs, and when my inner peace was disturbed with the shot of adrenaline caused by flapping birds.  Then, there were the times where I sat in subalpine scenery listening to ravens clack and call above me, watching mountain goats  graze in green meadows below, with views all the way to the heavens. Or when I questioned my ability to put into words the serenity of sitting completely alone, in perfect stillness, by an alpine lake surrounded by jagged snow capped mountains.

This has been a journey of seasons, of inner strength, of education, of gumption, and stamina. It’s solidified my choice of freelance writing; a perfect career move.  I’ve reached out and embraced fall, while still stuck in the wispy-cloud moments of summer.  This experience has stuck to my soul like sap on a trekking pole.  As it comes to a close, I’ve come to realize, it’s simply, who I’ve become.

the beautiful shores of Little Cougar Lake
brilliant leaves
goodnight Mt. Rainier, goodnight creatures
who are blessed to live under your powerful shoulders
I knew there would be cows.  Yes, I knew, but I went anyway.
I'd been down this road before.
And met this cowboy, who was rounding them up.  Suddenly I wasn't afraid.
Tex had my back. Mama's DO let your babies....
They were, however, standing on the trail. But these weren't vindictive
and did not give me stink-eye.
They starred at me from Conrad Meadows.  Curious.
I left the cattle and wandered into Goat Rocks where I met this guy.
The very low Rimrock Lake
I bamboozled a hiker friend to join me on the Three Peaks Trail.
Having a pulse within shouting range was refreshing.
To eat or not to eat?  There's only one way you know if
you've eaten a bad mushroom. 

Packwood Lake
the "lady of the flies"
Big bull in the fading light. Long lens, big tree

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