Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Next Stop - Everest



  Today's photograph is from Mt. Hood, Oregon where I recently visited Youngest Son and - are you ready?

Got high. 

Really high.

Calm down now.

Not that kind of high.

One Sunday we hiked the trail around Trillium Lake which has a wonderful view of Mt. Hood. It was a beautiful day, blue skies, puffy white clouds, high fifties/low sixties - so delicious we went back on Monday when it was more peaceful, no crowds, no shouting children to shatter the stillness or scatter the fish.


Mt. Hood from Lake Trillium


My plan was to take photos, his to catch fish. He settled on the shore and cast his line. I sat on a nearby rock and watched a while. An eagle swooped down with a loud splash mid-lake, soared up again, then flew towards us. Maybe he'd drop his fish on us? No fish were biting and we agreed that an eagle dropping a trout on his head might be my fisherman's best chance of catching one.




It was cloudier than it had been on Sunday, but still delicious. However, after half an hour of sitting I was in danger of turning to stone so up I got to move around, stamp my feet and warm up. I'd make a terrible fisherman.


I spotted another trail leading off into the woods and decided to explore. YS, ever hopeful, stayed on the shore. The trail was wide and cushioned with pine needles, greenery all around, some already glowing red and gold.




After parallelling the lake for a bit, it turned away from shore, heading steeply upward.




 I think I may be descended from forest-dwelling gnomes as walking in the woods always blisses me out. My earliest memory of anything similar was the haggard behind my granny's house. I remember, as a little girl, collecting kipeens (little sticks) for kindling among those trees with her.

The woods at Cratloe were another favourite childhood haunt. I loved it so much we got married in the tiny chapel there. The Little Blister still goes there to run (in the woods, not the chapel) She claims it feels more like church to her than church.

Our California Girl lives in Redwood country, the silence in those ancient groves so hushed and reverent the loudest sound is that of a pine needle drifting to earth.




And where YS lives are more woods with more plush, piney carpet underfoot and a cathedral-like hush.


So there I was, getting high in Oregon.
It must be in the DNA.

The trail was seriously steep now, up and up, away from the lake, turning back on itself in a series of esses, taking me ever higher. In school, in Irish language class, we had a story once about how a donkey, not considered the brainiest of animals, nevertheless had a clever way of climbing a steep path - not by going straight up but by zigzagging from one side to the other. I have used that information often since those long ago schooldays. The Mag would be gratified that it made such a lasting impression, but also puzzled that I remember nothing else from that story.
Zig zagging my way upwards I became aware of a humming sound. Traffic? Impossible. Then I realized it was the sound of my ears preparing to explode.


At each new bend I told myself  'Just to this bend, then, if there's an amazing view, I'll turn back.' Kind of like reading a good book where you keep turning just one more page. I wasn't yet high enough for the amazing views, just more trees, crowding in on all sides, more steep trail ahead and air that was thinner by the minute. On I went, up and up. No strolling now. When I heard the sound of pounding I stopped again to listen. It was only my heart.

By now I was channelling Cheryl Strayed, having recently loved 'Wild,' her account of hiking 3000 miles, skyhigh, on the Pacific Coast Trail, alone. Parts of that trail are there in the Mt Hood National Forest. And yes, it did occur to me that traipsing off up a strange mountain, alone, might not be the smartest thing I'd ever done but, I rationalized, anyone willing to climb this high surely has loftier motives - the beauty, the peace, the views and the exercise - than assaulting daft old ladies.

 Upwards and onwards, totally focused, huffing and puffing, just being there, on the trail, no worries, no past, no future, just now, the path before me, the trees all around.


An hour into my hike, just when I thought I might actually reach the summit, my cell phone buzzed. It was reality.com. "Where are you?" a peevish voice asked. He's ready to leave, fishless, dispirited, and I'm an hour above him. If only I had wings I could jump off the trail's edge and land beside him in a matter of seconds.
But no wings, not even a parachute, only Shank's mare.

I gaze longingly at the next bend in the trail. Who knows what heights I might reach if left to myself ? But common sense (I do have a little), and the YS persuade me to turn around

 In my next life, I plot, on the downward march, I'll be a serious hiker - stout boots, rucksack, flashlight, water, camping gear, maps, a plan - all the things I don't have now. High above the madding crowds I'll breathe pure, ferny air, eyeball to eyeball with the tops of the tallest trees, looking down on ribbony roads and rivers and shining mirror lakes - taking amazing pictures. I'll have a small cabin there with '"clay and wattles made" a wood burning stove and a neat stack of wood by the door. I think the OC could be talked into joining me. Someone would have to chop the wood (not me!) and someone would have to cook (not him!)
We could leave the aggravations of the world below. Family and friends would be welcome to visit as long as they were willing to climb and leave their 'devices' at home. But, come to think of it, the latter might be a deal breaker for the OC. Hmm. Some compromises might be necessary.

Meanwhile my phone is buzzing again. I walk faster, surprised at the mountain-goat nimbleness of my knees, down down down, snapping quick photos of a flower here or a leaf there, almost falling face first into a soggy ditch in my eagerness.






  The world down below forgotten, this is my reality for now.
High as a kite on  firs and ferns and fantasy.



8 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

That sounds like complete bliss to my tree-hugging self. Loved your photos too.

Ali Honey said...

Onward and Upward. I think taking your phone and a few simple provisions is a very sensible idea next time.
We have a look alike mountain here in NZ.

gz said...

beautiful and blissful...water and wood does us good

Colette said...

Wonderful post - I wish I was hiking up there with you. And the "I think I may be descended from forest-dwelling gnomes" comment made me smile.

Molly Bon said...


EC - Speaking of tree huggers, our C. G. is so passionate about protecting those ancient trees from those who see only dollar signs that she actually lived at the top of a giant redwood for a while. As I said - DNA.

Ali - I do actually know better. I was swept up in the moment. And yes, everything I hear about NZ makes me wish I could go there...

gz - The OC would like you! You summed my entire post up in less than ten words!
He believes brevity is the soul of wit. Which puts me out of the running....

Colette - The woods and the water are a powerful antidote to what ails us in our crowded world and lives. We need the lap of water and the rustle of trees.



SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Perhaps just as well you didn't start running down. You'd have been half way across the lake before you stopped !
I'm seriously out of hill-climbing practise these days. Anything more than stepping up on the kerb gives me vertigo and a climb like this leaves me agog .

Sabine said...

Thank you for taking us along. This was really a good read. I love hill walking but you climbed a mountain it seems!

Molly Bon said...


S&S - Running is out of the question! My knees co-operate, more or less, with walking/hiking, they'd go on strike completely if asked to run. Besides, you might have to leave the country to find a hill?

Sabine - Ahem. A mountain to me maybe, but likely a mere hill to purists.