Saturday, September 19, 2015

Life in a "Crowded" Place

The past two weekends I spent in the Lakes Basin. Much maligned as being too crowded, in fact if you know where to go, it's a lovely slice of heaven. And even if there are people, so what? They are out there enjoying the wilderness, not doing a whole host of awful things that they could be doing. I've changed my views on seeing people in the mountains drastically. When I was a wilderness ranger, I wanted to see nobody. (Probably because I spent my days cleaning up after the less enlightened. There's only so much tin foil you can pick out of a fire pit before you jump the shark.)
Now I am mostly good with seeing people, especially the two dads with their kids. Love it. Yes, there were people perched everywhere, but we found a campsite up on the rocks. Yes, I heard five women approaching, all of whom looked like they could not take another step. I heard one say, "We're just going to have to squeeze in on the rocks." Gah! But they squeezed in next to someone else. Not going to lie, I was glad. But the whole wilderness belongs to everyone. I remembered a night when we were freezing and wet in the  North Cascades, and the couple we had been leapfrogging peered down at our bedraggled selves from a spacious ledge. "This site's pretty small!" they proclaimed, clearly lying. I don't want to be like that.

How much is that doggy in the tent?
And yes, there was the loud group of several who had blatantly pitched enormous tents, lawn chairs, solar showers, and a portable toilet less than 100 feet from the lake, in disregard of the setback rule. Not cool, but there are always a few like that.
View from our campsite.


Despite all the people, the Lakes Basin is a peaceful place. You get the feeling it has seen many bad campers, and good ones, over the years, and still it endures. Crowded? Maybe by Wallowa Mountains standards. I counted five other camps within sound of ours. But everyone was happy and smiling. Who wouldn't want that?

I used to be much more of a purist, but over the decades I have seen that the average age of wilderness visitors is about 40-50 (this is different on thru-trails and perhaps in Colorado with fourteeners). Who will be left once those people are gone? Go out and bring your kids!

Big news: I am holding a copy of my novel! It is slated to be released in November but can be pre-ordered. The salesmanship pitches are saved for my author website, but just in case you want to know more, you can go here:
http://maryemerick.com/

It's a dream come true.





13 comments:

  1. Mellow Mary, re others in the wilderness. BTW, I preordered my copies months ago and can't wait to read The Geography of Water!

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  2. Love the views of the Wallowas, and glad most were really enjoying "your" wilderness. You did get that "hang out by a lake" time you thought about while on the PCT! And so many friends and family are all a-quiver over the new book! One friend said it was listed among New Books in the New York Times review of books...whoo hah.

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    1. I think they get listed because my publisher sent them a copy...but oh well, maybe it will inspire someone to buy it.

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    2. Yes, that's how they get their listing, but they sure don't list everything they get....it's a very good place for readers to find new books!!

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  3. I don't often encounter a lot of people since my life operates on a non-traditional schedule, but it makes me happy to see people out with their kids. Most often I see them in campgrounds, riding their bikes around and around from dawn to dusk. I saw a bunch of kids (one barely a year old hangingout in mama's pack) climbing Lassen Peak last time I went up.

    I'm just about to leave for a trip around Oregon and read a lot of great things about the Wallowas, but it seemed a little too far for all the other places we wanted to see. Next time!

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    1. Yes, it's a long way up here but it would be great if you came. Lots of trails to run too!

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  4. I love hiking and camping with my kid (my husband thinks I'm nuts to take them by myself). It's the few times a year I feel like I have quality time with them. That little bit of time we spend on a short trail reminds us to settle down and breathe.

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    1. I love that you take them, and that they like to go. You don't see that very often anymore.

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    2. I'm glad I got that wild hair about 4 years ago and told myself "I can do this. I can take my kids camping by myself. I know how to camp, I need to share my knowledge with them." I want my kids to be able to share this with their kids. We have fun even if it is just at State Parks. (I'm a State Park junkie). We have yet to venture out of a State Park, mainly because I feel safer in one. I'm getting better about it though, and with each trip I'm feeling a little more adventurous.

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  5. Congrats on the publishing of your novel! I'm going over to your other site to check it out! :)

    P.S. If you still plan to hike the PCT in my neck of the woods, let me know. I probably won't able to keep up with you and your friends, but if you need a shuttle ride to or from a trailhead, I'm willing to help.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Thanks...with work travel and meetings I think the window has closed, but maybe next year!

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