Friday, August 31, 2012

The Return to Presence (Day 1 & 2)

The first two days of the Return to Presence (aka Leave of Absence) have set the tone. On Day 1, instead of attending an inservice at Benson High School, I was fitted for a backpack, the Deuter ACT Lite 40 + 10. A pack yearning to be filled with adventure.

Better than a new tote!

On Day 2, I rafted the Deschutes instead of returning to my little office in the kitchen at Lincoln High School.

My kind of office - a high ceiling, negligible walls, and a floor that lets you jump in!
Hanging on to thanks and gratitude (and a little bit for my life!) at Oaks Springs. Life is good!

Duck season opens tomorrow, every game, every stadium.  


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, August 27, 2012

Yocum Ridge

Graded as a 16 mile, difficult hike with an elevation gain of nearly 4000 ft, Yocum Ridge scared me. Not enough to ignore its call, but enough to stop at the ranger station for a map, bandage up the two toes that promised blood and blisters if left ignored, and remind myself I would quit if needed. Not that I needed reminding- for better or worse, I'm fairly comfortable with quitting.

With so much focus on the mileage and degree of difficulty, I overlooked the other descriptors attached to the trail, such as beautiful, remote, a perfect solitude. Funny how the brain concentrates on potential obstacles when preparing for something, yet recalls mostly the feeling of sweet accomplishment once the business is complete. Yes, we remember the labor and hard work involved, but the true tangibility of pain is gone. Whereas, the pleasure of accomplishment tends to last long into the future. I wish my brain would remember that more often.

The Yocum Ridge Trail begins by sharing the Ramona Falls Trail for the first four miles. Two pretty paths through the woods that follow little streams or the Sandy River, depending which way you go.

Ramona Falls, a veil of watery lace stitched with light, shadows, and time.

Ahh, don't we all wear that same veil?

From Ramona Falls, it was onward and upward - four miles, but all uphill. Having been to Ramona Falls a handful of times, I knew what to expect from the first part of the trip, but everything now was new ground. That gets a hiker excited.

After a 450 foot elevation gain on the Pacific Crest Trail in little more than a half mile, we hit our mark. The PCT continued left for the California/Mexico border more than 2000 miles to the south. We veered right. I'm glad we didn't miss our turn!

Elevation 3900'

As we climbed into higher elevation, the trees changed and we began to see the start of what we hoped awaited us in the alpine meadows ahead - wildflowers.

A 700 year old Noble Fir at about 4300'
The picture is not the quality this tree deserves, but between my limited ability and only my iphone, the fir was out of luck. Now that I look at this, I wish I thought to capture some of its massive diameter - a diameter that stretched at least 20 feet around. A noble fir indeed.

We walked, the sun shone, the flowers bloomed, and the hills were alive. Julie Andrews herself would have been amazed! Then the show really started. We arrived at the first meadow, and it was spectacular.

Somebody joked about the poppies from the Wizard of Oz. You almost had to joke; otherwise, you might cry. It was that kind of beautiful.

The delicacy and tenaciousness of life embodied by the Mariposa Lily. 
In six weeks, these meadows will have snow. 

Approaching Yocum Ridge Meadow, Mt. Hood, and lunch. My shoulders look stiff!
                       Yocum Ridge Meadow. 

Man is but a small moment. 

With legs burning and stomachs growling, we stopped to have lunch at 6000 ft. My broken apart, cold tortilla never tasted so good!

 I look at Mt. Hood probably 300 times a year. I also ski, swim, snowshoe, snowmobile, and live on it. Yet yesterday, to hear its glaciers moan under pressure and to witness a rock slide on the opposing canyon wall, the mountain seemed an entirely new discovery.

Peaked out at 6200 feet.

Tom, our living field guide on all things flora and fauna.

Yocum Ridge was an outstanding hike. It works you - we started at 8 am and returned to the cars at 715 - but it rewards you with a soul-filling beauty that lingers long after being off the trail.  I was happy I didn't let my initial insecurities keep me from trying. I never once thought about quitting until I was about a mile from the car on the return trip when quitting wasn't all that appealing anyway. My knee hurt, my toes were crushed, but mostly, I was tired. Those things I can live with. What would be harder to live with is allowing an ambition to shrivel in the grass, to wither and contract, before it ever has a chance to grow.