I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Remembering bygone times

Returning from Chain Lakes hike

This picture depicts what has long been one of my favorite hikes, the relatively short (7-ish miles) hike from the Bagley Lakes area up to Herman Saddle, down to Iceberg Lake, up to Artist Point and then back to the starting point via the Wild Goose trail. Although there's some elevation gain and loss of around 2,000 feet, it's simply gorgeous and the views are without parallel in our beautiful Mt. Baker wilderness area. This picture was taken five years ago, in late August 2017.
Old age and the passage of time teach all things. —Sophocles

What I have learned in these past five years is how much I have enjoyed my hikes with the Senior Trailblazers, and how long five years can be in the life of one person. Although I can probably still make this hike if the weather is good, meaning not too hot, not too sunny and with all my faculties functioning properly (knees, back, and feet in good shape). I've done it many times but feel some trepidation just contemplating the excursion once again.

Last Thursday I accidentally went on a longer and steeper hike than I intended, and although I did it, I was so tired and sore at the end of it that I figured I won't be repeating it. I'm done with long and steep hikes. And yet... the call of the wilderness is so strong that I think I might end up pushing myself like that again in the future. As long as I can keep going, I'll probably be finding myself wondering how the heck I ended up trudging up a long and arduous trail again. But five years when you're in your late seventies is not the same journey as it once was. 

Chain Lakes wildflowers galore

How do I stop when the views are so glorious? When there are others even older and less fit than I who keep on going? I have been hiking with the Senior Trailblazers since 2009, more than a decade of going out in all kinds of weather, putting one foot in front of the other and making it mostly without serious injury. I have fallen more than once, but with the help of others have safely gotten myself back home. I miss these trips.

My spirit is still willing and if that was all I needed to be comfortable covering long distances in the mountains, I'd be there in a minute. But that's not the case, and I've been wrestling with myself all summer long. Melanie and I did one fairly long trip a month or so ago, and I did pretty well, but it was rather cool and she always allows me to set the pace to accommodate me. That makes all the difference, and I've been happy to take advantage of her stronger ability, which makes me feel safe when we're out there. I hope to make it up to Goat Mountain this fall, when conditions are good, since it's another of my favorites and no harder than last week's hike.

We had reasonable air quality when we went out for our five-mile walk yesterday morning, but then during the afternoon the air began to get much worse, as the smoke from a nearby forest fire reached our area. It was eerie as the sky darkened and got scary yesterday evening, with the air quality falling to unhealthy. This morning (I just checked) it's still bad, in the unhealthy category. That means we will have at least another day of bad air. Many places in the country have been dealing with this, too, but this is the first time for us this season. I pray they get the fire under control. This one is called the Bolt Creek Fire, and I've added a link from a local news outlet. Apparently the residents in the area have been evacuated for their safety.

Other than not wanting to exert myself much today, because of the air quality, I have plenty of indoor tasks to accomplish and keep me occupied. I just purchased a new (to me) Apple iPhone 12, replacing my 7. I loved that phone, and it took good care of me for years, but with the newest version (the 14) having been released, I would not have been able to update the old phone with the latest operating system. That means I have a lot of learning to do, since it's quite different from the earlier version. The hardest part for me is realizing that there's no "home" button, and everything now needs to be done with swipes across the screen. Mercy! But before long, it will be old hat and I'll be fine. Just a day or two of hassles. 

And I have been watching the goings-on with the passing of Queen Elizabeth. Nothing much else has been on the news, and I have truly felt the enormity of the change in the world with her gone. Melanie and I were on our Thursday hike when my Apple Watch sent out an alert about her death, so we stopped on the trail and acknowledged the significance of it. She was truly a dedicated servant to the Commonwealth, and she watched how much the world changed during her realm. We will not see the likes of her again. I wonder how the monarchy will fare without her. May she rest in peace, with her beloved husband with her once again.

Today is the anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks 21 years ago. It changed the world in ways we could not have imagined at the time. Although it's been more than two decades, will any of us who were alive at the time ever forget where we were when we heard of it?

If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate. —Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl

What surprises me is that it has been 21 years since that happened, and it still remains vivid in my memories. My son Chris was in the Army and stationed in Germany when it happened, and since he died the following year from a heart attack, he was spared from having to be involved in the war that emanated from it. I suspect he would have died in Afghanistan if he had survived, and I am grateful he didn't go through that trauma. Many have died from it, both our soldiers and civilians as well. 

There are so many world events happening right now, and I am very much involved in their experiences, through the magic of the internet, as well as all my devices, including my new iPhone. And here we are, once again, joined as we are to one another through our blogs and comments. I know that some of you were not able to reach me for awhile, and I tried to fix it, but apparently Google fixed itself. One blogger was only able to find me through a Google search, but if you do find yourself unable to reach me, please let me know my email. I smiled when I wrote that, thinking of how you wouldn't know any of this if you couldn't get to this blog. 

My tea is gone, my dear sweet partner is still sleeping next to me, and I'm thinking of all of you, my dear virtual family, who are as precious to me as my "skin" family and friends. I hope that you will have a good day, safe and sound from harm, and able to experience robust good health. It's my prayer for you today. Be well until we meet again next week.


Anvilcloud said...

We noticed at the Open that they have the 9 11 2001 date emblazoned beside the court. 2022 seems on odd year to do that, but why not, eh? 2021 would have made more sense. Maybe they did it and I don't remember.

ApacheDug said...

DJan, congratulations on your new iphone, talk about being on the top of technology. I thought you just did that with mountains, given that image of you from 2017 at the top.
My gosh, what a giant and majestic backdrop. I too am surprised at today's September 11th being the 21 anniversary. I was working downtown, went down to the Starbucks in our lobby for a coffee around 9am, came back upstairs and our front receptionist asked if I heard about a plane hitting the world trade tower. I thought for sure it was a small biplane that clipped its wing or something; a few minutes later... The next thing I knew, we were all sent home and when I got back to mine I had a frantic message for my mother on my answering machine. Since I worked in the tallest building in downtown Pittsburgh she thought it was a potential target. Anyway, I tend to ramble.. I hope your week ahead is smoke free and any hiking easier on your lungs. That Melanie is a taskmaster! 😉

Far Side of Fifty said...

Adam was just 8 days old back in 2001 on this day, I held him and wept. For me, for him and for all my grandchildren.
Things were different before then..I was more trusting of people....not so much since then. In large buildings I like to know exactly where the exit is. Not that we go inside many buildings since Covid!
Perhaps your longer hikes should have an extended lunch time and a nap!
I hope you have a wonderful week. We have a busy week coming up. Lots of things to check off our list!

Rian said...

9/11 - another day that lives within us forever. My memory is DH calling me from work and telling me to put the TV on... then my mother and I walking outside and it was so-oo quiet... no planes in the sky. I remember the silence.
Your memories of your longer more difficult hikes makes me think of the saying, "Don't cry because it's over... Smile because it happened." I remember that saying a lot these days.
As for Queen Elizabeth's death, I do believe she was a great lady. This doesn't mean that everything she did was great - as she herself said, some things could have been done differently, but I do believe she was a credit to the Monarchy and that it will be difficult for anyone to take her place. But I wish King Charles the very best.
Let us know how your new iPhone works. Outside of no home button, anything else? We've still got the old iPhone 6... need to update soon.

Linda Reeder said...

Thanks for the link on the Bolt Creek fire. I have been busy and was unaware. I also need to check on the fire near Packwood, Hwy 12. My sister and family have property there.
I identify with your longing to be able to hike like you used to. Those photos would draw me back too. I have many photos of my shorter hikes around the meadows of Paradise at Mt Rainier. I long to be able to do it again. But I can't. My mind sees me striding out for a good long walk like I used to. But I can't. I try not to dwell on it. It was almost more than I could do to get to the Sounders game yesterday at 5:00 in the smokey air. But I made it and it was so good to be there with 35,000 other happy fans and finally see a decisive victory!
I'll have a slow day today too. Isn't Sunday supposed to be a day of rest?
Be well and content. While much has changed in these 21 years, we still enjoy very good lives. We are fortunate.

Linda Reeder said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tabor said...

I will no longer do strenuous or tough hikes. I am afraid of falling and then not being able to even move about for months! Thre is always the joy when one remembers what had been done years before.

Betsy said...

No summer/fall smoke is the only thing we're appreciative of since we left Spokane last year. We miss Washington and it's beauty so much. Nebraska has it's good points but the weather isn't one of them!
I remember exactly where I was that terrible morning. I don't think any of us will ever forget. It changed all of our lives and our hearts forever. I'm still hesitant to be in a crowd or in a building I'm not familiar with. I'm sorry for the world we're leaving our children and grandchildren.
Wishing you a great week and hope you'll be able to breathe esay.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am so sorry you are feeling the effects of the smoke. Heat, cold, and rain are one thing but smoke can really hurt you. Your lungs are precious. I know you miss the long, tough and beautiful hikes but I am just so glad you have lesser but still challenging options and a good friend who will go the pace you choose. Keep enjoying.

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you so much for this thoughtful post.
Smile because it happened indeed.
And smile (each and every week) to see another thought provoking post here is something I assuredly do.

Galen Pearl said...

I spent a lot of my life loving being in wilderness areas. My intense hiking days are over, but I still love being in the mountains, sitting by a creek, walking in the forest. Loved your photos.

Red said...

I also had to face reality when it comes to hiking. I gave it up. We have to travel to get to mountain trails so I did not have many opportunities. However I did go Up Mt Baldy about 21 times and Coloseum about 15 times. These were excursions where we took students.

Marie Smith said...

This past week I realized I will never again peddle my bike as I did last year. I will use the throttle from now on when I ride. It is hard to lose something you enjoy so much but the fact I can still balance enough on the e-bike to ride, is something to celebrate. Besides, the enjoyment of the peddling is etched in my DNA and spirit now. Nothing can take that away.

Enjoy you hikes, my friend. Life is fleeting but glorious!

Sandra said...

I've had the iPhone 12 for 2 years. It seemed strange at first but as you said, you get used to it. My husband always gets my old phone, so he has the 7. When he gets the 12 he will be impossible. He just cannot swipe a screen. You have my admiration concerning hiking. It's not something I have ever done, nor could imagine doing. It keeps you going.

Glenda Beall said...

I see myself in your posts, DJan, although I never really hiked the way you do. Short treks up a mountain was all I ever made, but I come from flat land and I could walk a good ways there. It takes so little to change the way we do things. I like to walk in the pool for exercise as I have a very bad knee and can't walk on hard ground. But last week I tried to do some stretches in the pool, twisted my bad knee, and have been relegated to a wheel chair for a while. How often we take for granted the simple efforts of living, and how dreadfully hard it is to have to give them up. Hang in there and continue to do what you can. As long as you want to make those hikes and can do so without pain, I say go for them. Love your posts.