The Grandparent Project: Part Twelve

Welcome to the 12th installment of The Grandparent Project! This is an endeavor to revisit family memories with my relatives in California and my children in the Midwest by posting digital copies of my old snapshots and piecing together our shared history. It’s been a great adventure in itself as well as a reminder of the incredible journey we’ve already had. 

Today’s episode takes place in the year 2002 at Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. Grandpa George was 69 years old and an avid hiker. My siblings and I can probably all agree that his model inspired us. I am glad to say that he may also have inspired my children. At the time of this visit, they were 17, 15, 13, and 11 and their cousin Cristina was 9. My mom and my husband were physically not up to hiking the trail we chose this time, so they stayed back at the condo (with Susan and Emily?) while the rest of us went to find Lake George. My father was always the leader, a very strong presence and authority and a keen map-reader. This was the first time I saw him falter in his sense of direction. What is now apparent is that he was beginning to come under the grip of Alzheimer’s disease. I am very glad to have pictures of him on this day. It was a gorgeous trek and fitting that it centered on a destination that shares his name. 

Some of us also went horseback riding on that trip…

We went through Yosemite National Park as well on the way back to the Bay Area. My husband and I had gone there on a date way back when I was still in High School. He picked me up at four in the morning and returned me to my parents’ house by midnight. I was thrilled to go, but it was a lot of driving. Returning to the park with my children two decades later, I couldn’t help feeling sad and disappointed at how much smog and congestion were visible. It makes sense that my California family avoids that particular area and chooses less well-known sites in the Sierras to hike.

I would love to arrange future family hikes in the Sierras. Let’s see how many of us can get out on the trail when we’re 69!

*Footnote photo – taken when we got back to the homestead in Los Gatos.  

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient

The Wilderness Act of 1964 protects designated wilderness and defines it as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain”. 

Hikers passing through in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, leave no trace…

Ancient desert communities left the pueblos centuries ago…

And my tent is pitched on this Earth for just a short while.

Transient

Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

I can totally relate to Cheri’s picture of taking a boardwalk path through a fragile eco-system. 

I can also relate to my personal path changing dramatically in 2016. I, too, moved to a new place – to be closer to my job – and then experienced an abrupt twist in the path when my boss resigned.  Paths can always lead to the unexpected, even a path you’ve traveled many times before. 

Humans have a strong tendency to try to control and predict, to make crooked paths straight, to eliminate as much random chaos as possible. And that means we can often be frustrated, disappointed, or anxious on the path we’re traveling.  But we don’t have to be. We can be delighted, wonder-filled and accepting. The path is what it is. How you travel and with what baggage is up to you. 

PG hiking
Path

Weekly Photo Challenge: Oops! Fun Fails

Walking along the Ice Age Trail in June can take you along the tops of glacial formations like kames and eskers and drumlins.  It can also take you through kettles and boggy meadows.  Wisconsin in June is often wet.  We are blessed with abundant fresh water in the Great Lakes region. It’s a glorious thing to watch the greening of the landscape each year because of all that water. Things certainly bust out all over here. The tendency to misjudge the depth of water on the path is probably a pretty common “oops” for many hikers. But what a delight to pull off your soggy boots and socks and run barefoot in the new grass!

oops
Oops!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wilderness Inspiration

This photo challenge is familiar.  In 2012, there was a similar challenge which I responded to in this fashion.  I still blog about all those things, but lately, I’ve come to realize that I have been going through an evolution inspired by a specific concept: WILDERNESS.  In fact, I have an entire page set up to link to my wilderness posts.  (Feel free to browse around there!)  This last weekend, Steve and I went to find some wilderness in the U.P. (the Upper Peninsula of Michigan).  Sure enough, there were 3 federally designated wilderness areas in the western portion of that state.  We went to the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness in the Ottawa National Forest.  In 1987, logging operations there ceased and the logging roads were left to return to wilderness.  We were told by a forest ranger that the old road is a 7.5 mile “trail” that traverses the wilderness and given a map.  She warned us, though, that it’s not maintained.  We attempted to hike from both trail heads, but only got about 50 feet along before we realized that we would be foolish to go any further.  As I headed back toward the car, I realized that I was crying.  Not because I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to hike there, but for a very different, special reason.  It was as if I had been invited into the sanctuary of a foreign religion or to spend half an hour on a different planet.  I was humbled.  I was in awe.  I felt a reverence for the place that put my presence in profound perspective.  It wasn’t quite like I didn’t belong; it was that I belonged no more especially than anything else there, even the tiniest fungus spore.  It was a supreme experience of equality.  I did not dominate in any way.  I jokingly told Steve that this was a place “where men are food and flies are king”, but I was feeling anything but glib in my soul. 

To find yourself in the sanctuary of wilderness is to feel the breath of the Divine all around.  Breathe it in.  Be inspired. 

Inspiration

Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art

The weekly photo challenge came out on Friday morning, as usual.  Only this Friday, I was setting up camp in the Dog Canyon campground in Guadalupe National Park, a wilderness park in Texas where there is no Internet (ya think?).  I returned to Milwaukee just this evening, after 2 days of driving with only a 3.5 hour stopover to sleep in a rest area off the interstate in Missouri.  Needless to say, I’m tired.  This is a going to be a quick post.  But the Cover Art example on the Daily Post reminded me so much of a shot I took during this 2.5 week journey, that I have to share it.  To see the prompt and the example, click here.  My ‘magazine’ is a periodical covering aspects of wilderness preservation.  (Having spent 5 days at the Wilderness 50 Conference during this trip, I have much more to say about that…but I won’t go into it…yet.)  And here is the cover shot:

Cover art

I’ll be sharing a lot more about Wilderness and environmental ethics on this blog in upcoming posts.  Stay tuned, please!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure!

I am late jumping into this week’s challenge because I’ve been on an adventure!  I’ve been in California for the last week visiting family and taking excursions.  I lived in CA for 15 years, but it’s been 4 years since I’ve been there.  In the interim, they’ve established a new National Park.  The Pinnacles have been designated a National Monument since 1908, but 2 years ago it became a National Park.  And it’s still the newest one.   My father and brother used to hike there years ago and raved about it to me.  This week I made my first visit.  California condors have been reintroduced to the area, but I didn’t see one.  I did see a tarantula and a wild bobcat, though!  The tarantula was in one of the caves that was formed when giant boulders from the top of the Pinnacles crashed down into the canyons.  It was very dark under there, and it took me a while to figure out how to photograph the critter.  The CCC built some very helpful trails with stairs and railings in the 1930s that make exploring those caves and getting up to the rim of Pinnacles relatively easy.  What you might not notice in the photos is the silence.  Yes, even in California, one can find silence.  Solitude.  Space.  But those places seem to be shrinking every year as population and development boom.  The state has changed since I left in 1991.  And it will keep changing.  Some changes are good though.  It’s nice to know that condors live there now.