May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.Edward Abbey
It is New Year’s day, and like many people I become pensive at this time of year, reflecting on the year that has passed and wondering what the new one will bring. Without going into details, it was not a great year for me, with a major life change, a move, and an injury in September from which I have not yet recovered. All of this chaos kept me off the trails for much of the summer and forced me to cancel travel plans in October.
I was surprised then when I began looking through the photos from the year and saw the usual collection of mountain vistas, beautiful sunsets, and beckoning paths. It wasn’t a great year, but it wasn’t a bad one either.
It is a strange thing that as I reflect on the year that has passed, the memories that are most prominent are painful ones: driving away from my log home to a new life, picking up the phone and hearing my brother’s voice telling me that he has cancer, lying on the ground with a fractured shoulder blade and wondering how I will ever get up. Somehow I did. Somehow we do. We keep getting up. . .again and again.
The photo above is of the old lookout cabin on the summit of Columbia Mountain in the Kettle River range, not far from my home. It is typically one of the first hikes I take in the summer, as soon as the trails are no longer snow covered, usually by late June. In all likelihood I will be up there again this year, standing on the mountain top, admiring the views extending all the way to the Selkirks in the east and west as far as the Cascades. I find this comforting. It will still be there, whatever happens in my life this next year. However deep the snow may be this winter, the trails remain, and I will most likely be on them, still hiking, finding that reassurance that never fails me when I am there.
Like most of the country, winter has been brutal here. Heavy snow began to fall in late November. A few days before Christmas we experienced several days of sub-zero temperatures, dropping to -28 one morning. I had to cancel my travel plans. Add it to the list: I spent Christmas alone.
I was reminded of how my hiking life has prepared me for such events. I spent most of the day sitting in front of the fire with a good book. This is something I know how to do, and it was comforting.
It is comforting as well to look at the photos on my phone from this last year. Three words come to mind: not so bad. There was the hike to Columbia Mountain, my journey across the many ranges of Nevada, a close up look at the beautiful Ruby Mountains, the blistering hike through Canyonlands under the unrelenting August sun, even a smiling selfie showing off my new glasses to the world. I look happy. I was happy. After all, I now have frames that are purple and orange. Life is good.
I missed out on Christmas, but it is never too late to celebrate a holiday, so I am spending New Year’s day with my family in western Washington. It seems like a fitting way to begin the new year, warm and comfortable, surrounded by the people I love the most. Happy Hiking in 2023. May the year be “not so bad.”
2 thoughts on “Happy Hiking”
Happy New Year my friend! Thanks for reminding us that life is NOT so bad, especially when we look at the BIG picture. We are blessed.
Hi. I like your glasses. I hope you can get rid of the pain. That will insure better than not so bad I hope. Jan
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