I was hiking the Kendrick Mountain trail for a work project. I spend plenty of time at my computer, and moments like these, ones that used to be every day, are now rare. As I hiked up the rocky trail, taking long, epic switchbacks to the ultimate height of ten thousand feet, I thought about the people, one most recently, who judgmentally told me that they "could never work a desk job." This always seems a bit snarky and aimed at showing that the person is somehow superior and never fails to irritate me. We all weigh our trade-offs and for me, it was not having to hustle at age 70.
Plus there's this. Desk job though it may be, I am writing a wilderness plan for this place, something that will help protect it for decades. How can that not be rewarding, to leave something behind? I think it is. Something like the cabin I stumble upon on a flat plateau, built in the 1930s. The fire lookout lived here and hiked the rough trail to Kendrick Peak's summit every day to scan for smoke.
As I descend, I run into the lone hiker I passed a while back. "I could live up here!" I tell him. He agrees. "I could live up here in winter," he ups the ante. "I'm that kind of guy!" "Me too!" I say. It's always nice to meet one of my tribe in a world that doesn't value solitude.
"Do you like the music of Jerry Garcia?" he asks. While I'm not a Deadhead, I do like some of the songs, so I nod. He fishes in his backpack and hands me a CD. It's a burn of a Grateful Dead concert in 1972. "I give these to hikers," the man says. I head down the mountain, smiling at the randomness of the encounter.