Eclipse, a Month+ Later

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Why now? Well, why not?

The hype around the eclipse seen in North America Monday, August 21, seemed unreal. My local go-to for weather tweeted about it constantly. The entire Eastern U.S. seemed to have driven south for it, based on our experience on I-81 headed back north that night. I learned that the Waze app allows comments; reading them at 1:30 a.m. was its own special experience.

And then it was Tuesday.

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On Walking for a Cause

About 15 years or so ago, I participated in my first, and one of only a few, walks “for a cause.” It was a breast cancer awareness walk that began near the Camden Riversharks minor league baseball stadium in Camden, NJ, and traveled across the Ben Franklin Bridge. I sat at home with my parents early that morning, in the lingering drizzle after a rainy night, debating whether or not we should actually go. On the one hand, we’d planned to meet another group there. On the other, we’d already made donations to the organization that had planned the walk, and it was still raining.

We ended up going, and the rain largely subsided by the time the walk began, but the nature of our debate stayed with me. I’ve often wondered what the usefulness of the walking itself is in these scenarios when the ultimate purpose is to raise money; it’s easy enough to make a donation with a few clicks on a screen without ever getting off the couch. Yet in the past week, in the midst of so many walks for causes, I may be starting to understand. Walking with others can be a show of camaraderie, a show of force, a show of unity.

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High Divide, or the Hike That Wasn’t

Heading toward Sol Duc Falls
Heading toward Sol Duc Falls

I am not Bear Grylls. I have no desire to be. I do not feel at all compelled to battle the elements in bizarre ways, to drink my own urine. Frankly, when I go out for a walk or begin a longer hike, I’m mainly just looking for a way to challenge myself a bit, relax, and enjoy the scenery (and yes, those first two can co-exist!). I don’t mind weather that’s a bit off or scenery that’s not as grand as I’d hoped. I do mind constant rain, cold, and fogged in views from the edges of steep mountainsides that make you lose all perspective — both physical and mental.

On that note, I should point out that this post’s title isn’t true: we hiked the popular High Divide (Seven Lakes Basin) trail in Olympic National Park, and while we didn’t complete the loop that meets up with Sol Duc River trail head, we hiked the section of the trail most renowned for its views of Mount Olympus. In the 2008 edition of Hiking Olympic National Park (revised just last month), Eric Molvar writes that “views of the Olympus massif expand to fill the entire southern horizon as the path crosses the slopes high above the Hoh River valley.” We saw nothing. Our intended two-night backpack turned into one very long (approx. 17-mile), very wet and cold, and very disheartening day that landed us back in the same place we’d begun that morning.

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A Birthday Post / Poem about a Whale Ear Bone

Not my birthday…

But a very Happy Birthday to my favorite person to go walking with!

From Mt. Diablo in California... the hike that got me hooked on hiking thanks to Chris!
From Mt. Diablo in California… the hike that got me hooked on hiking thanks to this guy!

It’s also been four years since the day we decided to take a lifelong walk together… Happy Anniversary!

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And a poem:

Philip’s Birthday

I gave,
to a friend that I care for deeply,
something that I loved.
It was only a small

extremely shapely bone
that came from the ear
of a whale.
It hurt a little

to give it away.
The next morning
I went out, as usual,
at sunrise,

and there, in the harbor,
was a swan.
I don’t know
what he or she was doing there,

but the beauty of it
was gift.
Do you see what I mean?
You give, and you are given.

– Mary Oliver

Apgar Lookout

I’m not writing much this week or next because I’m busy hiking – well, not as of the writing, but as of the posting. So this is actually a look back at a hike from last summer, Apgar Lookout in Glacier National Park. As hikes go, it was one of the less rewarding ones we did in the park. As days go, it was one of my favorites.

Flowers along the Apgar Lookout trail.
Flowers along the Apgar Lookout trail.

The day was a scorcher and we got a bit of a late start. I always say I’m going to get up early and get going – definitely wishful thinking on my part. So as we set out, it was hot, bright, and sunny, although also a bit hazy and smoky from forest fires in nearby states and provinces. The Apgar Lookout trail is on the west side of the park, and is just over 7 miles round trip. But those are some steep 7 miles, for sure. Before beginning, we had driven to what we thought was the trail head at a horse corral. We were all ready to go when we encountered a very tanned and in-shape man with white hair who wore a gold cross on a chain and swung a bright yellow shirt as he walked around.

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