Bob Carter and I enjoyed a three day backpack trip up the Eagle Creek drainage on the south side of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Bob and I have been hiking together since 2003, and we are grateful our legs still let us enjoy these trips.
We left Monday afternoon and found very few others on the trail. The flowers were at their peak, blooming in green expansive meadows beneath formidable peaks and cliffs.
” The mountains are calling and I must answer.” John Muir
It is easy to find joy and God’s breath of life in the mountains. However, when I return to the heat of the valley, I must remind myself that nothing is ordinary in God’s sight. All ground is holy. I need to walk upon it “with gentleness and mindfulness. God is in every particle.”
When Bob Carter and I started hiking together in 2003, he was 62 and I was 60. We are older and slower now. However, we still have the legs and mental stamina to do this eight mile round trip hike over lots of downed timber and over a couple miles of snow to reach this gorgeous meadow in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. On Monday, June24, we started at the end of the Lostine River Road at Two Pan and hiked up the East Fork of the Lostine River. From tracks we saw, we were only the second people to arrive this season.
More and more, I am convinced how little our politicians, in this country and in the world, can do for us ordinary people. We are the ones who spread the good news of love and forgiveness, not merely by words, but by our interactions, our interconnections with our neighbors, whether we know them well or not.
Despite terrifying acts of violence we can still choose our response: to pray, to restore, to heal.
By creating us in His image, God has shown us His deep and abiding love. Together, we can outweigh, and outlast, all that distorts this image.
Stephen Gould captures this idea most eloquently:
“Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one. The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. Complex systems can only be built step by step, whereas destruction requires but an instant. Thus, in what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible as the ”ordinary” efforts of a vast majority.
“We have a duty, almost a holy responsibility, to record and honor the victorious weight of these innumerable little kindnesses, when an unprecedented act of evil so threatens to distort our perception of ordinary human behavior” Stephen Gould
My hiking partner, Bob, and I spent a delightful time in the high Wallowas, far from the “madding crowds.” A ten mile hike and 4000 foot elevation gain to us to the tundra country of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, where its short spring was just arriving. We have been here before, but it was the first time we caught it at the peak of its wildflowers.
There is no steeper trail in the Eagle Cap Wilderness than the one my long time hiking partner, Bob, and I took this backpack trip the last Thursday/Friday of September. Three thousand feet up in three miles! The trail to the Legore mine and the meadow above is as close to straight up as a trail can be. I had done it several times in my fifties, but at 73, with a backpack, it is much, much steeper than I remembered. What had seemed an easy ascent–and descent (going down was more treacherous than going up)–twenty years ago, was far different now.
We did 1500 feet up to Sawtooth Peak Friday morning. We saw both big horn sheep and mountain goats. Then we headed back down to camp, packed up and dropped the 3000 feet to the trailhead. (Lots of elevation for one day) I was as tired as I have ever been, but still exhilarated by what we accomplished!
Hurricane Creek. Falls Creek. Eagle Cap Wilderness
The Falls Creek trail is steep
Where we camped above the Legore mine
Hiking up the gully to the bowl below Sawtooth Peak
Embraced by memories of mountain air, sounds of the river, and visions of green meadows filled with wildflowers beneath alpine peaks, I loaded La Grande Troop 514 Scouts into the car to travel to the trailhead that leads up the East Fork of the Lostine River into the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The trail requires more effort than earlier years, but the challenge makes the time and beauty all the more meaningful. I am blessed to live so close to such a special place and still have the legs to hike, albeit at a slower pace. And it was particularly fun to backpack with these older scouts who could carry more weight and prepare a gourmet dinner and breakfast—despite the mosquitoes!
Starting at the trailhead for North Catherine Creek, Meg and I backpacked to Catherine Meadows in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The six mile hike was made easier through friends who took in most of our gear on their horses and mules. High above Catherine Meadows, Meg and I celebrated with a kiss!