Sunday, October 15, 2017

coming home

I drove home into an early winter. Usually the Wallowas get a fine dusting of snow, like giants spilling flour, by this time. I've even been chased out of the mountains on Labor Day by a half a foot dump. But this much snow, this early, is not typical, at least not in the recent decades. Two guys I passed on the trail today said they had run into a foot of snow before the old cabin on Falls Creek, and that is just deeply weird.

But today, at least, my first day back home, was one of those fall days that can break your heart. Heartbreaking because you know they can't last and they are just about perfect, a slight bite to the air, piles of bright leaves, warm sun on your shoulders and an open trail. I'm trying more and more often to live by the philosophy of "don't be sad that it's over, smile because it happened" and so I took on an easy trail, but one of the most beautiful.  I wanted to be grateful for the fall day, not gnash my teeth over the coming winter.

Only a few frosty cars at the trailhead, so some brave souls were camping in the twenty degree temperatures. Good for them. For me this is the time of year for day hikes. It only takes about an hour to reach Slick Rock Falls, the best I could do today when the chores had piled up in my absence (Note: if you rent a cabin to a bachelor, their idea of a good cleaning just might not be yours).

I hiked along at what my friend Gary calls a "friendly pace". It is always surprising to me to see day hikers with headphones, because my mind always is busily thinking about something. On my latest PCT hike it took me about five miles to add up all of the segments I have done and figure out what I have left (788 miles). I thought about each section and what it was like, and of the ones I have left to do. I think of plotlines for my novel. There is more to think about than there are miles.

The light wasn't great for pictures, but you get the idea.
 For example. Here in Deadman Meadow, I thought about climbing Sacajawea, the snowy peak pictured above. I thought about my friends who got married here. I remembered when I came and camped right here, on my 50 night backpacking quest. So much to think about.
All too soon I had reached my destination, Slick Rock Falls. This is where an avalanche often tumbles down from above. In the summer, you can climb up a ways and sit in some chilly, deep pools. This is also the route to the often dreamed about Deadman Lake. I could go further, I thought, keep going until the snow stopped me. But maybe this was good enough.

It's good to be home. Just like a person, this place has its challenges. I will deeply miss swimming, and the easy, flat trail system that actually made me want to go running. It was easy in Sisters, with convenient amenities, whatever you wanted close at hand. It would have been easy to stay and we almost did. But in the end, this feels more like home, so we came back. The future is still uncertain, but I'm ready to see what is next. 

10 comments:

  1. I'm sure it's great to be back home, hiking your favorite trails.

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    1. Yes although there's a day after letdown--wait, I am back at work? Nothing has changed? Feels like I never left!

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  2. Love this post on so many levels.

    Glad you are home sweet home, but can only imagine how odd and overwhelming it may be, especially with an uncertain future.

    Surprised to hear about your early big snow; didn't you guys have one of the worsts winters ever last year??? Crazy weather patterns all around.

    And once again, congrats on all your PCT miles! In the homestretch!!!

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    1. Yes last winter was big! It didn't start until Thanksgiving though.Looks like we may be in for it this year.

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  3. Totally agree re headphones. Why be out in the woods and bring the city with you?
    You did well to turn around [re previous post]. Have a wonderful winter.

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    1. I think that listening to music or podcasts or whatever doesn't let you imagine or dream. I know I'm in the minority these days.

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  4. Welcome home Mary!!
    This summer went by so fast for me but I sure did enjoy it.
    Glad to here that you liked Sisters and enjoyed your time there.

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    1. Hope you got out a lot! We were pretty shut down in Sisters due to fire. Looks like the Wallowa escaped the situation that many other places were in this year.Now we have a ton of snow.

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  5. The convenient amenities can be a drug I think, a sedative. Too much 'easy' within reach. When I live with those I find myself restless and vaguely unhappy, unfulfilled. Perhaps partly because those places also come with a lot of humanity and all that goes along with that (crowds, noise, etc.).
    It will indeed be interesting to see how the winter weather unfolds! Welcome Home!

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    1. The amenities definitely came with a ton of traffic and crowds. Always a tradeoff. I will miss swimming the most, but will just have to wetsuit it this summer.

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