adventures with covid-19

it may seem odd to think about living during a global pandemic as being an adventure, but its helped me move through it this way. it is an event that is changing how we organize our lives, interact with one another, and how we think about the ways we move through our lives: physically spacially spiritually thoughtfully intentionally, who we were before and who we hope to be after. how will the adventure effect us on the other side.

part of this being an adventure, perhaps, is choosing some kind of agancy in how i respond, aka choose my adventure. i am somewhat fortunate to, despite my great slacker tendencies, have a job in an essential business that is a co-op and not a corp. so i can still work and have a choice not to. i live in a state with a proactive governor who responded quickly, so there were/are resources available for people. hell i even bought a nice old truck just as businesses were being shut down. this huge piece of the adventure totally effects the choices i make as i continue in this adventure.

another aspect to this adventure in covid, for me, is i didn’t actually think i was going to experience this part of the climate crisis. sure i knew i would live to see the rise of the calamaties. i acknowledge that we are, and have been experiencing a great deal already: the rising seas, the increased intensity of storms and weather patterns, global political unrest. i guess i just didn’t think it would all start to happen all of a sudden so soon. i should have. i’ve been keeping track of this for long enough. i suspect the reader in me expected all the things to happen in chapters, or acts like a book or movie, not simultaneously…silly human.

a key part to how i am deciding my adventure is my level of privilege: a healthy (if a young 52 years), white, can pass as cis woman when people don’t identify me as male, i have a good grasp on having a healthy diet, access to clean water (for all the reasons this is important), fairly good mental and emotional health, have supportive people in my life… i have continued working so far, family took me in to recoup fund after bike tour so i have a roof over my head. and if weather really does play a part in this, we were already experiencing spring as it came to the southwest, so, that.

how is this situation impacting me? superficially i havent’ been hiking or exploring the area as much since places have closed down. i haven’t been able to go visit family in the spring. my skin is raw and cracked from hand washing and sanitizing. my thoughts have been derailed from projects to reflection and re-evaluating my health and well-being. the last thing i want to do is bring anything home to those who have graciously opened their home to me.

one thought loop i can’t get out of my head is reflecting back to the start of the hiv pandemic. who didn’t want to close the bath houses? or not wear condoms/practice safer sex? who was in denial? all the conspiracy theories and false narratives that fed fear and hatred. much of it continues today in various pockets. i don’t have any deep thoughts here, but i do recognize some serious similarities when i see white men not wanting to be told what to do.

my deeper thoughts are for the present future. now that i have woken up just a little more, i believe this virus will be with us for a while with or without an immunization, which who really trusts the government to inject anything into our bodies right now? and that immunization won’t be effective against the next big epidemic that comes our way, and one will. sooo wtf?!

well one day as i was walking, i remembered the words that came to me while camping by an alpine lake several years ago: “get lean, get clean, get strong”. i’ve pondered this several times, tossed it aside when inconvenient, but mostly ran away from it. but now? now i am embracing it, and it is probably the basis for how i am participating in this adventure.

almost as soon as this started around here, late february/early march, i started a running program. at first just getting out for a bit, then started the couch to 5k program, and this sunday the 10k program. it feels good to be running again. i don’t know how many times i’ve tried a new running program and been sidelined from an injury or pain. but this time everything has been good so far. well this week i had foot pain, so i am backing off a little….i’m susceptible to tight calves that lead to foot issues.

i’m cleaning up my diet a little more. it was pretty good. i haven’t had pizza or burritos since i left oregon (this is big, those were basic food groups for me). the only beer i’m consuming i get to-go from local breweries and limit my intake mostly because i’m one and drunk now). most of what i am cleaning up is what goes in my mind and heart. and this, i believe is what getting clean and strong is really about: clean thoughts and strong heart (lean is excess baggage and minimalist life not food and body so much). learning this is a heart/respiratory virus, i boosted foods, herbs, and activities that support my body, and continue to do the research.

i’ve learned to reach out to people when i feel the wave of an overwhelmed heart begin to shut me down and allow forms of ineffective fear creep in. i’ve made deals with a friend that we do this for one another. for the biggest fear i have around this? we won’t learn from it, as a culture. we will expect an ineffective failed state to give us a magic pill that makes everything go away, and that won’t help us one bit when the next pandemic blows into town on the wings of a virus that is typically kept in check with the delightful balancing act of biodiversity. my next great fear is that we will just go back to the old normal that continues to exploit the global resources that we have no business messing with the way we do.

but when these fears aren’t pinning me to the floor with only the stark white ceiling to respond to, i am excited and inspired for not just what comes next, but all the creative ways people are responding, acting, choosing their community adventure.

examples you ask? well how about biking and running communities doing virtual races/runs/rides? using these as fundraisers for community needs? at the co-op i chat with people (using physical distancing) that are getting groceries for neighbors/family/friends. i hear podcasts by herbalists that are sharing what they know about these kinds of illneses and what people can do for themselves and those in their community…so community action, that is what excites me. that we can do deeper community organizing and care work. to know what our neighbors need in a time of crisies, whatever that crisis is.

one action the federal government has inspired me to dig even deeper into, is local consumption. now, if you know me this is something that is always on my radar regardless of the adventure i am on: food, bike shops, bookstores, newspapers…so i have kind of made a deeper resolution to up my local game. i’ve been doing research on when i “need” certain things where will i get it.

so to sum it all up, like all adventures i embark on, this one too is about going deeper into myself to learn more about my personal edges. to learn more about myself and how i interact with the world i am a part of, the community that i am interdependent with, what skills i need to learn or become better at, or didn’t even know was a thing to know. these are the things i am excited to bring forward with me, what about you? what changes are you making that you hope to bring to post adventure?

drying out again

I’m here in lovely coos bay. it’s been raining and raining, again. one joke I’ve heard many times is “it’s only rained twice, both lasting 48 days”  tonight I found my self in search of some green food, I walked by a brewery and heard some good music (they described them selves as surf country and I still don’t really know what that is), so  I stopped to drip dry a little. 
I ended up talking to two different fascinating groups of people. the first I had an unexpected conversation about being vegan and hunting. I had just missed a woman who is part of a vegan group in town and has almost convinced one of my companions for the night, to go vegan. 

the other companion at this group and I had a wonderful chat about how we are truly related to every thing as just another species, another animal on this planet. I was warmed and filled and ready to leave, but first a trip to the bathroom. 

upon my return was a fresh beer and an invitation to table where some friends of my companions were sitting. here I found out that the lead singer and guitarist is also the middle school principal. the stand-up bass player is the owner of the brewery. it seems the brewer has kind of been some what responsible for the uptick of musicians in the area. there was a kind of membership that gave one a free beer a month and funded bringing in music to the pub. people have seemed very excited by this. 

the guy sitting across from me had been up dancing and decided to pull off his sweatshirt to reveal those really thick suspenders  with the name of a saw company on them. he was an older man who has mostly worked at the timber/lumber industry. we started talking about this mandolin that someone he knows built out of different woods. he described the curves and the artistry and challenges of working with different woods by the way they twist and unwind in drying processes. he said the instrament sounds wonderful. 

he then talked about a man up around grants pass who designs and builds complete sets of violin, cello, bass, and maybe viola. to buy these sets, for a large chunk of change, you have to be approved by the builder first. it was a wonderfully delightful conversation about wood and music and art and craft. all with a fine band in the background. 

I walked back to where I was to find rest this night with a large moon showing it’self through the clouds. the rains stopped until I was about halfway “home”. I love these kinds of moments. there were so many other conversations about travel and adventure, about what it means to live and places we have loved. we laughed and tears welled up in my chest in finding such connections all day today. a day where I found myself sck of the oregon coast. 

I yurn for something else. the walking is wonderful, when I find myself on a trail. the road walking is rough especially in the rain. I needed this night for some renewed energy.

I will keep walking down the coast until I find another direction. the thing that is hard to remember sometimes is that every thing, even and especially the challenging times, are impermanent. that the best times do out weight the cold wet days. i just need to wait it out.
one thing that is a challenge on this particular trail is the cost. so if you have enjoyed these post, please consider donating to my go fund me campaign. it’ll give me a little more time out here before I stop and get some work somewhere.

and thanks for reading! it is nice to know there are people on the other side of this!

checking some privilege 

I guess checking one’s privilege is a lot like rain on the oregon coast, it never stops. however, today was, and still is, a wonderful day. it didn’t start that way. i woke early thinking great! I won’t have to pack a wet tent. then then pit pit pitter-patter began. I held my breath hoping it would pass  nope! a deluge poured down.  I started to read but opted to set a timer for 30 minutes and buried my head!

I eventually got on my way, and by the time I finished a lunch break it was a glorious day! a rounded the bay at Waldport and across the way, the whole shoreline was full of sunbathing sea lions! maybe this is what they were barking about all morning! not only was the sun out but the wind was at my back! 

The view! spectacular! today the ocean was such an amazing color! maybe what some would call aquamarine? a deeper but also lighter colors of blue layered with greens tinged with more blue. and the whites of the crashing waves blowing across the tops in a strong wind. all this under a clear blue sky! I needed today. it has been nice some, but the rain has just worn me out. even when I thought I was getting a break of sunshine, it started to rain. normally I like then sunshine and rain combo. but really I just want 24-48 hours with a dry tent and dry feet. 

to celebrate I may actually stay up long enough to watch the sunset! maybe. 

the view as I started this thought

anyway, that is not what I wanted to write about today; just needed to get that off my chest. today I want to just take a moment to acknowledge and recognize not just the privilege I have just to do this adventure, but also how privilege  effects how I’m treated out here. 

for those of you who don’t know me, I’m a white, cis gendered woman/gender – queer person. I come from a mostly working-class background. I have participated in a few forms of institutionalized higher education (a debt that I most likely will never be able to pay off), I am a healthy able-bodied, fairly mentally stable, and for lack of better words right now, legal citizen of the country I’m currently in.

some other privileges I would add: I am single, queer (in more than just gender/sexual orientation, but also so many ways I move through the world), I have no children or animals that need my care. my parents and other family members are healthy, my grandparents have all passed on (I don’t think is a privilege really, but I do think I didn’t start this until the last one passed so that I could be reached if needed). I was able to acquire respectably good gear that fits me. and I’m sure I will discover more as I continue this venture. 

why does it seem important to me to recognize this here and now? one of my very first conversations with someone (a middle-aged white male from the seat of his mini-van as he was headed to the same state park as I so that he could take a shower while his bathroom ws being remodeled) approached me because I “looked like a legitimate backpacker and not just some homeless person”. .  didn’t know how to respond so I said something to the effects of yes I am backpacking. 

however, I am also basically homeless. I don’t have a job. maybe I could consider myself self employed since I hope to maybe make some money eventually from these shenanigans. but because he categorized me as someone he could maybe relate to, he decided to stop and have a conversation with me. so, yes, for now I can afford a hiker/biker camp site, some of wich have allowed me to take a hot shower and I’ve rested up in a hostel a couple times.

I think, also because of how I present myelf, I have been able to talk more openly to other queerdos, even if that’s not how they would identify. 

I think some of this hit me as I crossed the newport bridge because I had had some really great talks with some folks at the lost buoy hostel. we talked about so many things, but one thing that sticks with me is how people using airbnb are changing the ways people travel and it is making it more challenging for folks to travel simply and cheaply. to the point that people are starting to charge for couch surfing. this is a whole other tangent around a kind of exchange economy that made up couch surfing. 

anyway….I know that there are just as many things about who I am that can put me in danger, especially in certain homophobic, sexist, pro-gun, hunting /animal agriculture communities. but I wanted to take a minute to reflect and remember to remember just how different I am treated than some of the other folks walking around these coastal towns with carrying all their possessions on their backs. are there ways for me to bridge these gaps? to make connections? I know I have so many more questions, I just don’t know how to work with them.

so now I will stare off into the sunset and see if I can sort some of this out! also, if you have any thoughts on these thoughts, please do share! 

p.s. it’s been a few days now since I wrote this and I’ve had a couple other experience that reinforces my points. it comes in getting 3 lifts from people while I was stuck road walking. all 3 people stopped and offered rides and I wasn’t even trying. i thought about it, sticking my thumb out and all, but I didn’t. I’m very grateful for the rides. they all showed up just when I needed them! yes, mom, they were all very nice people trying to repay for rides they had gotten. 

some questions answered

i know its early for a first break, but believe it or not, i need a break. i have been going non-stop since i quite my jobby job. there was just so much to do and people to see and stuff to work out, that i didn’t get a chance to just process all that was happening. i kinda figured i’d do it on the drive to kansas and back, but nope. i was just focused on driving and making plans with the people i was meeting up with there. then i thought i could chill out on the way back. you know, take the more southern route through colorado and stop at some hot springs, have some beer, write… but i was just so tired and exhausted, mostly emotionally exhausted to be honest. when you leave your dream job, it can be troubling. the last 6 months of working there was really hard on me.

i don’t know how to explain it, but it just stopped feeling like the collective was working together. many people thought they knew what the co-op needed, but couldn’t hear what anyone else was saying. there were lots of power dynamics happening and i got caught in the middle. then there was the disagreements on calling the cops or not when people felt or were perceived to be violent in one way or another, especially the people experiencing homelessness or some form of mental illness. i guess on most levels i (as a white human in this country and especially in portland) i feel pretty safe emotionally, physically, and mentally. in most of these instances my concern was for the safety of those acting out, and on those around who don’t typically feel safe. calling the cops makes very few people actually feel safer….anyway, my dream job was no longer my dream job, which made me create and follow through with a new dream. so that is what i am out here doing.

so here i am in seaside taking a break after only 2 days out and 20 miles in. i am going to catch you up a bit. so here are the answers to the question i get most often. after this, probably later today, i will tell about the last couple days.

 as i begin to share my adventure plan with people i am invariably asked how did i come up with this idea. or how long have i been thinking about doing this, or some variant of this. and when i am out walking around thinking, i am reminded of so many times i’ve wondered about doing this, and some of the inspiring (in one way or another) people who’s stories i have heard about. the main ones that come to mind are: utah phillips, woodie guthrie, (and all the riders of the rails that they talk about), everett ruess, and to a lesser extent john muir and thurou (to be honest and somewhat sacrilege, i don’t really like muir. yes, he started the protecting the “wilderness” areas and all that. however, they were super racists and displaced the people of that land that already cared for and had a relationship with the land. so  i find him and all the worship he gets annoying). people ask me about the peace pilgrim and other folks who walked across the country with a pointed purpose. i have certainly been affected by them and their convictions, but not really. then i am asked about the book and movie wild. sigh, i was not inspired by either, but i get why people are. there are so many thru-hikers who’s blogs and books i have read, and thankfully there are more and more female identified folks writing and getting published, and they have been super helpful and lent to the dream. however, they all, at some point, ask why can’t this be life? i ask just because the trail ends, does that mean i have to stop walking? i say no, well until the money runs out and i have to stop for a minute and make some more. so yes, thru-hikers have been inspiring, but this is not a thru-hike.

so, i’d say ruess has been my biggest influence. i stumbled upon ruess after one of my very first backpacking trips. we did a few days up in zion national park. once we put on a clean (for me dry since i jumped in the river as soon as we crossed the bridge), consumed the biggest salad and coldest beer i could imagine, we then stepped into a cute little bookstore. here is where i found a book called “everett ruess: a vagabond for beauty” by w.l. rusho. mostly it’s a collection of ruess’ letters, journal entries, poems, and woodblocks. i fell in love with his story. and for sure i fell in love with the romantic notion of a young person stepping out of the city in search of….well beauty. that introduction had to be 12 years ago.

i’ve read and reread this book and lent it out so much its falling apart, held together with a rubber band. it wasn’t until i moved to portland that i ran into anyone else that had heard of everett. seems most people have heard of him from the book into the wild. kroukhou spends a good deal of time talking about him as he pieces together the story of chris. i still haven’t been able to bring myself to read that book. i saw the movie and was somewhat annoyed. i do really like the soundtrack. but for some reason, the thought of reading this book just repulses me. this happens sometimes. it happened to me with “wild”. i forced myself to read it like a child who doesn’t want to eat their dinner….just like that child that submitted, i wish i hadn’t. so i may never read it, but i am curious about it, so who knows….

anyway, the questions all the above people bring up for me are fairly basic. 1) is a modern-day everett, guthrie, utah, vagabond rail rider even possible and if so what does that look like? 2) where are the women, people of color, queer folks? where are their stories? or do they end (and therefor never told) by a lynching, prison, violent death, institutionalization? also is there a level of survival that keep non-white men from having their stories told from an adventure format? also also…this had been the life of the traditional people of this land befor the arrival of the european conqueror. what is the privilege that “allowed” the exploitative life of people like thurou or ruess and especially muir? what is the difference between the utah, guthrie folks compared to the everett and muire and chris?

poverty for sure. mental health for woodie guthrie (any doubts? read his autobiography). those two groups of white men have access to different privlages of american culture. some, like utah philliups, are trying to fight against this oppressive regime of a colonizing culture. many of those riding the rails where looking for seasonal work, migratory work. leaving lives that they couldn’t fulfill, all kinds of stories of people who capitalism leaves out. people who don’t want to or can’t for various reasons, live in this world.

for some reason, i feel like i fall into both and neither camp at the same time. i want to adventure out into the wilderness in search of beauty. the beauty of nature of the people who know the land. to find the beauty of people i have very little in common with besides a love for the outdoors. but i also feel like i don’t fall in line with the status quo. i believe that the bigger, better, faster life-style that is getting even faster and faster as we are lulled into a false sence of security. i’m tired of people telling me what it means to be however i am identifying today, and i only feel that it is getting worse. that the more we refine how we identify, the more specific we get in our specialty, the less we are able to see the bigger connections. the less we are able to develop empathy for people we do not know. the less we are able to put together the connections that make us all homosapians, animals if you will.

i just want to explore/experience/get to know the people and the places that i move through. this is getting harder and harder to do in cities. they are all getting so homogenous. it doesn’t feel as genuine anymore. the gentrification of the cities is beginning to feel the way it did when non-queer folks showed up at the gay & lesbian bars. coming by because it was cool, the music was good for dancing, the people beautiful, but they wanted to feel safe and wanted to be like their neighborhood bars, so they took it over and offended most everyone. then, since that queer space is now safer for white folks to move in and be trendy, hip and happening, those queers, other creatives and the rest of the folks living there at near or below poverty level, get pushed out. that is how portland feels to me now…and what is happening to the “up and coming” cities around the country. so i could move to another city again, but name a place this isn’t happening.

and i fear that this is what is happening to the trendy trails like the pct, at, cdt. i fear that as more and more people descend upon the major trails, they will become like the interstate highway systems where people cross the country faster and faster and we forget to stop and get to know the people, plants, and animals of the land. and what is the up and down stream effects of all this activity on some trails? also, it has become a major commodity and purchasing of latest and greatest gear. the gear industry is exploding, but who makes it and for whom are they making it? this is a rabbit hole of sorts that i will go down later.

i think that this is one of the appeals of everett ruess for me. he floundered. he knew he didn’t know lots of things and didn’t pretend to. he talked to people as he encountered them, but doesn’t seem to seek them out. he, indeed was very privileged even during the times of the depression of the early 1900s. we seems to have been known to walk into any place and make himself at home. he didn’t seem to know how to be a stranger which is indeed a privilege of the young and the cis white hetero male. he seems to have made friends with some of the indigenous folks of the canyon lands. and then he just disappears. some think that the mystery of his disappearance has been solved. national geographic has a huge article on it, but in the end it is still in question. i like the idea that he and his donkeys just rode off out of range. maybe went on into mexico. perhaps just blended in with one of the indigenous villages in the area.

so how has this inspired or fed my ideas of this adventure?

i want to travel around this country. i do not want to travel on the roads.if i did i would do a bike tour, and i don’t want to bike over the mountain ranges and i don’t want to walk on hot stinky roads. i want to meet the people in the small towns along the ranges. i want to meet more people who are living and working in the forest, wild spaces left in this country (and not in this country). i want to hear their stories. i want to walk the land with them. in a time when we think we are so super divided, and we certainly are for fear can indeed to that, i think if we take the time and move slowly enough to get to know one another in ways that feed empathy for how we each got to where we are, we will find that there is not so much reason to fight. we might learn that most of our most basic fears are the same…we shall see.

i’ll resupply as i pass through towns.

no i am not afraid of bears, cougars, or other wild life…snakes are a phobia for me. white men do make me leery. as i camp on the coast, i have realized i am afraid of sneaker waves, midnight high tides with a sneaker wave (am i sure i pitched my tent far enough back?), and cars on the beach running my tent, and subsequently me, over. i guess the thing i am most afraid of is being stuck in an institution of some kind (prison, hospital…). i’m a little afraid i may never come back for one reason or another, but mostly wonder what and why i would return. and no, i don’t know that i will return to portland to live.

i don’t have many plans outside of what will happen after the oregon coast trail. i will check the snow levels around that time and decide then. i have a few ideas in mind.

no i’m not actually walking across the country, but kind of around it and up-and-down in a kind of migratory route.

not taking a gps unit. getting lost is kind of the point, but also, i’d already need to have back up paper maps, so why don’t i just use those anyway. when it comes to having all the cool gadgets and such, i ask myself what would people do before these existed? well, they developed skills and such. that is what i plan on doing.

yes, i will have my cell phone (and can download maps and trails onto it), but it will have the most basic of plans and such to stay in touch. i also have this here tablet to write….

i hope to connect with local (to where i am at the time) trail groups and organization and hopefully do some trail maintence or work with them in some kind of capacity. 
yes, i will stay vegan, however, i have gotten some wool blend base layers for so many reasons that include not wanting hypothermia, weight, comfort on hot and cold days, synthetic gets stinky and is being made of oil really any better? cotton is nice, but its heavy and doesn’t dry quickly, however, i do have a cotton shirt to sleep in because it was designed by someone i know and its super soft.

gear-list….i will make one soon, i promise. while i am here at seaside i will do yet another shackdown…i want to lose 5 to 10 pounds still from my pack…speaking of, i am going to make some lunch….. 

wow! wow! wallowa mountains

for years i have been hearing about the grandeur of the wallowa mountains in the eagle cap wilderness in eastern oregon. to be honest, i had no idea what the heck people were talking about. the cascade range is super evident. the mountains (aka volcanic peaks) that surround me here are obvious. but i have driven where the wallowas lay across the land, and have never seen them, or i had seen some snow-covered tips, but… really? isn’t it just dry farm land?

we all went about our morning routines in our own paces. we exchanged gear relevent to our trips. they went to drop the bike tour friend to their starting point while i went to the trail head (and still trying to find a map). i filled up my favorite mug with some hot coffee and walked around the trail head area. the land already felt special in ways that seemed familiar while completely unknown.

we had picked a loop that would take us around the lake basin and over a couple of passes. many people do the lake basin loop, but go the opposite way and not as far east as we had chosen. when my friend arrived, we put on our packs, took pictures of important parts of the backpacking book, since we could not find a map anywhere (!) and headed up the trail….literally straight up!

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we found a comfortable pace and set into a nice conversation. i realized i have this thing that i do when i’m on climb, i like to look back and see how quickly i’ve climbed so high relative to where i had started. for some reason it takes the view ahead of how much further i have to go seem “well look what i have already done, so of course i can do this” but also, the higher we got, the more amazing views we had of wallowa lake (where we started the morning). once we to the last view-point of the lake before taking a turn that would leave the lake and all that has happened leading to this adventure behind us, we could see this line. its a line that marks the end of lush forest to dry arid farmland. its such a distinct line from up above, even though i had moved slowly through the lines and could see the effects of the changing landscape… its like if you have ever gone up and walked a clear-cut. you feel the heat radiating off the bare-naked land. can feel the sun cooking the once nutrient dense soil. then you walk into what is left of the forest and see just how deep the effects of that clear-cut goes…at least as much as my above-ground eyes can see.

i gave pause at this as i made that turn. something caught in my chest that i wouldn’t understand until later.

we rounded the turn and came to a little place, like a pond along the river we were following and took a little break. it was so peaceful. as we chatted, both of us wondering what and where we would want to go as portland is becoming harder and harder to live creatively in, when we see this shack across the stream. there is this water divergent pump station here with a bridge that leads over there (naturally (?) there is a locked gate with warning signs about crossing. but our imaginations cross anyway. we both agree. living in such a place would totally be doable! it’s just the right size! we could do this thing over there, and so and so could do their thing and…. seems fences can’t keep out the dream. meanwhile, there were these super cute little birds diving into the depths of the pond to feed and entertain us (pretty sure the entertainment was a side effect).

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when we got to roger lake, just before anoroid lake, we had a little lunch. here is where we saw the first people since we took off (ok maybe we saw some others, but not many and we were talking so that didn’t count) it was a group of women and we all just sort of waved to one another in an acknowledgment of wow women hiking with no men to show them the way! (well ok that is what i was thinking). we were both tired, but feeling good. if we camped at anoroid lake (which for some reason, i’m a lazy reader, i kept calling android lake) it was going to be a short mileage day. so when we got to r2d2 lake, we decided to keep going. we were sure that there was another lake close by and some streams for water when we looked at the book’s map (why the hell could we not find a map to buy before we left!)…so we decided to keep going for the day…but then we had to keep going…and going…and then we were over tenderfoot pass and the wind hit us like crazy and because once on top we just stayed up, there was no stopping it.

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we finally came around the corner to the saddle the wind was whipping through, not that it slowed it down, but we did see a solo packer setting up a tent… a really big tent for one person and her dog. so here is where we decided we would find a place to set up camp for the night. there was no water and we just had enough to get us to the stream at the other side of the pass we would have to climb in the morning… dry snack dinner it was.

it was getting cold and the wind maybe was a little calmer where we set up behind a bluff. we pitched our tents with our doors facing each other (we used both of the single person tents i have which have side facing doors (why do people use front facing doors?) so we snuggle into our respective sleeping vessels and chatted up the night. as the sun went down so did the wind and the night was moon filled and peaceful!

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we woke to frost everywhere! but the sun quickly came over the ridge and warmed up and all the things. water bottles were frozen so we had a dry breakfast and packed up and went in search of the trail to polaris pass that would take us into the lakes basin.

it was a climb, but the trail was a gentle climb. with views that were incredible and we were able to warm up quickly. when we got to the top of the pass, we could see how people would follow the ridge lines to the tops of peaks, we could see the trails at the bottom and all the directions and pockets with cute lakes and trees. this pass was warm and gentle and quiet… we had a long break up here….and then we started down and

down

and

down

and

down.

one reason that i was given for not being able to buy a map at one of the mt shops i frequent, is that they only carry green trails maps and since the trail systems here are incomplete or not frequently maintained, there aren’t green trails maps…. i thought about this for a minute. then i thought about some books that described hikes in this area and that for many reasons, the trails aren’t maintained much. this all rattled in my brain for a moment as i looked down at what could be construed as a trial through the scree (a shear side of a ridge where sometimes there is a slight flattened area where the rocks are to be walked upon) and wondered “how the hell would one even begin to maintain such a trail?” {a couple of days later we ran into a ranger who was doing trail maintenance and said as much to him. his response was he wondered the same but more so how do you even cut such a trail in the first place…yup!} my mind went staggeringly along as i decided that yes, i must find a way to do work with local groups as i pass through communities, and do some trail maintenence  while i’m on by big walk.

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the kinds of signs we had to go by…this was a good one

we went through some amazing places in our downward descent, but couldn’t look unless we stopped our perpetually moving forward bodies for fear of falling victim to the strong gravitational forces, however, we did run into 2 really nice women who were going the opposite direction as us. they were actually counting the switchbacks and let us know where we were in relation to those numbers… i can never keep track of such information, but soon i could see then hear the water from the stream that we were waiting for, and ooooh! what a waterfall stream it was! i kicked off my shoes, filled up all my water vessels and sat the fuck down! it was amazing. the water was cold and crisp and sweet… i have some addictions for sure, but my main addiction is for wild water, untreated, unfiltered, and straight into my mouth! i cupped my hands and drank.

we sat here for a spell. had a snack or two.

from here it wasn’t far to frazier lake and then the full on lakes basin. we had decided that we would camp at frazier, then horseshoe lake, and then head out. this would give us the time to see the things, take our time and have enjoyable nights and afternoons at the lakes. we wanted to enjoy and experience with out being rushed… some friends were getting married at the end of the adventure and wanted to get back in time for some celebrations.

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i don’t know how to talk about the rest of the trip.

the land is magical

the lakes are pristine

all of this should be experienced for one’s self

we learned about the cut-offs and connections that could make for shorter or longer trips to see this and be in this landscape.

what i can say is that view you see in countless oregon hiking and backpacking books of glacier lake will never ever do it justice, not even the one that i have here!

but what i can say is that i sat there in awe with tears in my eyes at the wonder i could see and smell and feel and taste. that the quiet i let settle into my body and mind, was to prepare me to be here in this place now! to not miss a reflection of mountain and tree in the water, or the ripple of a fish jumping, or the tiniest of tiny frogs huddled together at the edge of a lake.

i can tell you that i know there are people who came before us (white people of european descent) who cared for (and still do) this land. and again i had this feeling that i was forgetting something that i should remember.

this feeling happened everywhere….glacier pass, moccasin lakes, following the wallowa river,at the top of a pass, and when we returned to the lake to meet our other friend.

that last night, when we had all gathered back at the brewery for some fresh greens and hops, i took my time getting back to camp. i knew i was missing something, some important piece of all this.

the next morning they took off for a hike before their return to portland. i took my time packing up and trying to decide where to go and what to do next before i had to be back myself. i don’t do weddings so much, but i wanted to celebrate with them at the after party (aka reception).

i stopped at the turn off for old chief joseph’s grave site, got out of the car and read the plaque. i have read many of the stories of this leader, and his son, chief joseph, of a people during a horrible moment (of many) in the history of this colonized country. i walked up to his gravesite (that had to be moved from the summer gathering place of his people because it had been robbed twice – what is wrong with people), and my eyes filled with tears. joseph isn’t just a random name given to this town. it is named after old chief joseph of the wallowa  band of the Niimiipuu [Nee-Me-Poo] (commonly called the Nez Perce and his people the “non-treaty” nez perce since they refused to sign a treaty that would relinquish more than 5 million acres of land.

the stories i had read of the leaders of these people, of trying to escape the violence, and of fighting fiercely for their way of living, of not leaving behind anyone…well reflect on what is happening in standing rock as i write this. who is fighting for what and why…what do we, as people, stand to lose if the military/corporations win… what way of life have we already loss and who has gained from that…

when i left here, i went to the forest service office, that i found after turning too early to go to lunch, and i found a vending machine full of maps… what the…

i also found a couple of nice forest rangers who talked me up a bit as they told their story of how they are trying to work with the different interest groups to protect and care for this land as opposed to what has happened in other parts of the state.

i’m in love with this area. i hope to make it back after the snows return to the peaks this winter as well as find a way to walk through this land again.

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