April 16, 2009
The problem with snow is that it melts, producing torrents of ice cold water. Anna and Dan’s trek down the PCT is bring back memories, some wonderful, some . . . not so much. One that keeps popping into my head took place when I was nineteen, new to hiking, inexperience with the out-of-doors. I was living in Norway, where I first experienced the exhilaration of climbing mountains to gain vistas of distant fjords. I had seasoned instructors who insisted I do it “right”– hardy Norwegians full of instructions: ‘Swing you legs and not your hips; land on your whole foot; don’t walk downhill on your toes, roll through each step.” I still remember climbing the second highest mountain in Norway and hobbling to the bus stop the next morning, alone, while the rest in my party continued on foot.
I was in Norway as a University of California exchange student. We “California students” flew to Paris three days after school got out in June on a chartered plane from LAX. I had never ventured further from the L.A. suburbs than the border towns of Mexico. I was so nervous, I threw up in the airport.
After a quick tour of Paris the ground split up with some headed for the American University in Beirut, some heading for Germany and the rest–about twenty of us–traveling by train and boat, via Copenhagen, to Oslo for summer language school. That summer we enjoyed a delightful season of hiking, picnicking, and swimming in mountain lakes while learning to speak Norwegian.
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April 15, 2009
As many of you know, my daughter, Anna, and her husband, Daniele, began hiking the Pacific Crest Trail on Friday, March 27th, beginning at the metal fence that marks the border with Mexico and trekking north. They began in the town of Campo, about sixty miles inland from San Diego.
Last Tuesday they called to say they had left the PCT and hitched a ride to Idllywild, because snow was expected the next day. This first part seemed easy: Their guidebook suggested making a sign so they ripped pages from their journals (I think) and scrawled “PCT through hikers” which is code for those who are hiking the whole length of the nearly 3000 miles long trail in a single continuous journey, as opposed to those who hike sections at a time.
At first they despaired of finding a ride because cars were whizzing by too fast to read their tiny sign. In fact, they agreed that they would not stand there forever, they would wait for one hour and one hour only. But within five minutes, car that had raced past them, turned around and circled back. As they ran up to meet it they noticed a fish, an ixthus, a ancient symbol of Christianity on the bumper sticker, and smiled at the thought of being blessed by a fellow Christian. Although dear Daniele eschews all things ‘chee-vo”–his term for “cheesy evangelical”–he is still a follower of Christ, and I like to imagine he looks like our Lord with his Italian good looks and shoulder-length curly hair (Did Jesus have ringlets? I hope so!).
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