Thursday, June 18, 2015

The last place

Sometimes, I think, I should move away. I imagine what it would be like with a real lap pool instead of a glacial lake where we have to don wetsuits, gloves and booties in July. An airport where we don't have to spend two, sometimes four extra days to get to a destination. A grocery store beyond Safeway. More hiking soulmates, the kind who know and stay on that edge between pushing yourself and impossibility. I really, really want more of those.

And yet...

There are days like today. I arrived in a cloud of dust at the Tenderfoot trail head, bound to see how far I could get. There were two cars at the trail head. Two cars, I fumed. Then I had to laugh. I am spoiled. What would it be like to have parking lots completely filled, two hundred people on the trail? Anywhere else, an easy hike like this would be overflowing.

I mean, look:



Where else can you hike to a place like this in four miles and only see four people? (Don't tell anybody!)

I pushed  on to the pass. There was one snow field to cross, and some would have found it sketchy. You fall, you roll a long way. Determination carried me over. Dollar Lake, about a quarter mile off trail, was wonderfully quiet (though scarily low for this early).


I am starting on my seventh year of living in the same town. After this year it will be the longest I have lived anywhere since I was 17. I used to hate the idea of being stuck somewhere.  Wouldn't it be boring? Wouldn't I be boring? Wasn't the point to carpe the diem?

And yet. I am less and less concerned with big goals, with proving anything, with career aspirations. At my mid-year review, my supervisor asked me what my next step was. "Um," I floundered. I know the right answer is a higher grade level, more responsibility, but all I could think was: more desk time, less flexibility, a bigger city. It sounded like a jail sentence. I know that is what people are supposed to want, but I don't. In fact I'd be happy going back to being a wilderness ranger, if I could. That won't pay the bills, though.

I glissaded down the snowfield enroute to the trailhead. For years I moved every six months, then every few years, always thinking I was going to a better place than the one I left. I was good at leaving, good at goodbye. But after six years, I may have found the place I am not going to leave. The last place. It's a good feeling.









24 comments:

  1. If I lived where you do, I wouldn't leave either. And I agree with your work "goals" - having a flexible schedule and not a huge amount of stress is all I want in a job right now. I have zero interest in climbing that corporate ladder. I'm within 5 years of retirement, and I have no fixed goals, except to not screw up! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should have six years, but because I was seasonal (though I worked year round) it doesn't count and instead I have almost ten. It is discouraging! But one day at a time.

      Delete
  2. Hi Mary, great photos as usual. I pride myself at not climbing the corporate ladder. With the exception of my 5 tours in Vietnam, I've never held a real job. I spent 25 years working at varous remote loadges as a Winter caretaker. It gave me Summers off to travel around the state or spend time at my remote cabin. Now I'm just enjoying retirement, sometimes, lol. Take care

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great accomplishment, John! Though five tours sounds rough. You've earned your retirement.

      Delete
  3. That first lake looks familiar. If I remember correctly there were more than two cars parked at the trailhead the day we went. We came across at least 6 people, 2 dogs, and a couple llamas.
    I wouldn't want to leave that town either. Yes, you are spoiled to be able to have such beauty right in your backyard. I also think you have so much more left to explore there that you don't dare leave. It's possible if you left now that you would feel a major void. Besides isn't there a Peak or two you still need to summit?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ack! Hit the back button not just once, but twice

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. Haha that darn back button. Yes you know that lake!

      Delete
    4. :) Will always remember that hike. Thanks for sharing the beauty of it with me.

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Roots and wings; roots and wings. You seem to be in a place where you have both.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I looked at it that way..maybe I should. Working 40-50 hours a week is an anchor. I know, I know, everyone else has to do it too.Nobody likes a Whiny McWhinerson.

      Delete
  7. I know those lakes!....When we reached the trailhead on an August day, the parking lot was pretty full....uh oh. But once on the trail and camping at two lakes, very few other hikers, just the most beautiful land.. Loved your look at where you live and where you've been. Seems to me you have it balanced out just right!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People seem to spread out in that area--there is so much open and alpine ground to cover. If you don't turn at the Bonny junction, it's actually some of the wildest country in the Wallowas.

      Delete
  8. I feel like I could have written this post. Living in a smaller town with an unreliable airport can be annoying (I build a buffer day or two too), but having few people at the trail is AMAZING. I'm glad you've found your forever home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think so anyway! We will see.

      Delete
  9. Someday I'll be home again. I miss it terribly. I did get home 2 weekends ago and hiked out to Mormon Flat. Hours and miles from anything human. Awesome silence, awesome stars, distant howling of wolves. Rejuvenation.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mormon Flat. Can't place it. Out by Starvation?

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's out the Summit Ridge Road. Go about 8 miles from Warnock Corrals to the Parliament 'trailhead' then it's about 5 miles to Mormon Spring. Mormon Flat is the open area before you get to the spring.

    ReplyDelete
  12. First time Shane and I hiked into Bonny lakes and Dollar lake was in late August 6 or more years ago. We were camped at the head of the first lake and we saw no one for both days. We were sitting around the fire pit just talking and enjoying the moment and I as usual was checking out all the cool rocks when one small rock that I turned over happened to be Elvis!! Someone had given that rock a name, I thought that was kinda cute so I left it. I sometimes wonder if it's still there, someday I'll have to go back and see if I can find Elvis...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting.....once in Alaska we had to stop to camp on a small island due to winds and someone had painted up a volleyball to look just like Wilson from the movie castaway. It was funny and kind of disturbing at the same time.

      Delete
  13. You seem to be doing a stand-up job balancing work and play, taking advantage of and making opportunities. I loved when I finally got to the point that I no longer felt the need to climb the corporate ladder or find greener pastures, living was more important. There are but a few of us who know what it's like to enjoy true solitude, having a lake or trail to ourselves is what we love. Lottery permits, quotas, crowded parking lots, humans interrupting our views and nature sounds are all more than I can handle. Sounds to me like you're living a pretty good life in a pretty good place!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I admire your life, Jan. I wish I had the courage to make the jump. I need a few more years to balance out the finances.

      Delete

Hello out there. If you liked this post, please leave a comment so I keep writing!