Adventure Accompanied by Admirable Attitudes

School begins today – my children just left and I am….. working on having a good attitude.  I really, really enjoy summer vacation.  Having my children at home is one of my favorite things, particularly now that I have experienced them leaving home as adults.  Time rushes past much too swiftly.
Last night I was pondering on attitude – I can be told that my daughter needs to have a second brain surgery because they missed the tumor, or that another daughter’s surgery would also rescheduled because, after several hours in the operating room, she has undergone a respiratory emergency and it was unsafe to proceed… – I can be told this and be brave and strong and positive.  Yet here I am knowing that our fun summers hours are over… and I crumple.
Not liking to crumple (is that a real word?), I do what I have learned to do each September – embrace the beautiful memories of summer, give thanks for each experience, and turn my face to Autumn.  I actually love Autumn with the crispness in the air, fall color, comfort food, etc.  It may possibly be my favorite season – and since there is nothing I can do to stop its coming – here we go….
On the subject of attitudes, I want to blog about a fantastic group of young women that I have the privilege of working with.  Last month we went on a backpacking trip together and I witnessed some examples of positive attitudes that I believe need to be put down in print.
Our hike followed Siouxon Creek.  Our girls (13 of them) were aged 12 to 16.
Some of our girls were carrying backpacks that were almost as big as they were.  Our campsite was just 4 miles from the trailhead. We stopped a couple times to take off packs and rest. When we were 1 mile away from camp, a couple of the party members were looking very worn out. A few of the older girls notice this, and volunteered to hike the rest of the way, drop their packs, and come back to carry the packs of the other girls. They seemed excited at the prospect of being able to serve, and hurried on their way. The  two extra miles were not a burden. They were all smiles.
We had assigned the girls to “eating” groups of four or five and told them to plan their food together. We were impressed that, after we had set up camp and given them time to swim, we announced that  it was time to eat. Everyone got right into the groups, pumped and boiled water, and ate without any help or problems.  They worked together so well and were so efficient, we had as much fun watching them as they had together.
Long years of storage had taken a toll on some of the girls equipment. One young woman was carrying a pack that broke after the first 3 miles. The plastic holding the straps just popped. We fortunately we were carrying duct tape, and that held it together for the last mile.  We knew that it could not last for the trip home, but the girls came up with a solution. This young lady would take the large pack that one of the smaller girls had been carrying. With a nice pack she would carry her things and most of the other girls things as well. The younger girl was able to carry the broken pack, now tied together with rope. The lighter load made her trip much easier.
Time had also taken a toll on a pair of borrowed hiking boots. Duct tape again saved the day and saw this young woman through the last couple miles, but this solution wouldn’t be sustainable. The wearer of the boots had small feet, and luckily we had another young woman with small feet who eagerly shared her extra tennis shoes, leaving her to wade and swim in the rocky creek barefoot. She was also left without a pair of comfortable shoes to replace her boots after our other hiking adventure, but she did not complain.
Siouxon Peak was the destination for our second day. Happily, we would return to our camp and needed only day packs. The day turned out to be much more difficult than anticipated. Our first water crossing was near our camp at Chinook Falls.  Fortunately there was a large fallen log to cross. Unfortunately, right before the log, was some sort of wasp nest. Apparently the first few hikers disturbed the nest and the next several girls were soon screaming and covered with painful stings. We found another way to cross, but it wasn’t until days later that we learned just how painful those stings had been – the swelling contined to worsen even after they were home. No complaints!!
Within the first mile we determined that there were a few amongst us that, for medical reasons, should not continue. Three girls and two adults returned to camp and enjoyed a fun day together. They did not miss out on seeing the fantastic Wildcat Falls – they…

… What did they do?  Who knows?  I started writing this on Sept. 8.  It is now Oct 14.  I am well past my melancholy over school starting.  That lasts for about a day… by now I am wishing that school went an hour or two longer each day (haha).  This “good attitude” blog has been hanging over my head, and continues to influence me.  Right now I am experimenting to see if I can maintain a good attitude at the same time as an awful head cold…  I am not doing so well, but better than usual.

A quick hike wrap-up.  Siouxon Peak was spectacular and worth the effort.. but it was quite an effort. It turned out to be longer than the 8 miles we had anticipated.  After a long, steep ascent, we had gone downhill for quite awhile and and were surprised (and dismayed) to learn that our trail still had another peak to summit with a much-worse descent to follow.  We thought we would be back to camp with time to swim before dinner; instead we stumbled in to camp just before dark – where we found that our stay-in-camp girls had pumped plenty of water so that we could make our dinners quickly (bless them).
A couple highlights to remember:
Prior to the second group leaving for camp, we realized that our trail was turning and that the faint sounds of water somewhere down below us would be the last water of the day.  Three girls joined our two men – they gathered all of our water bottles (we had each carried 2) and headed down that steep incline.  We could not see them or the water – the rest of us enjoyed a nice break until they returned.  I wonder how many of us recall what these three girls did for us!  We would have been in bad shape without that replenishment.
At one point part of the mountain had washed away.  It was very steep and just loose sand/gravel.  Mark made it across and then was able to stretch a stick that we could each grab to help us.  My palms are sweaty with the memory.  His strength and the girls’ encouragement gave each of us confidence.
A word about the summit – there are two view areas.  These are precious in the northwest because trees usually block the view.  We sat on our first stop and admired three volcanoes at once!  (Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier)  There was a gentle breeze and it was so silent, so still… mountain peaks can be sacred, and this was one of those moments.  We sat for a long time, and the girls were reluctant to leave.  It was one of those moments that they will always remember and cherish.  What a treat to head out and find the other viewpoint.  Mt. Hood was added to our list of visible volcanoes – wow!  It was just as fantastic.  Here there was more room to walk and play – not quite as sacred, more like sensational.  Worth every moment of hiking!

Triumphant!

The hike back to the cars seemed so easy.  Several of the young women mentioned to me how much easier it was to go out.  We were all tired and many of us were hurting from the day before, but what made the difference?  In contrast to our first day – we knew that we could do hard things!  We had new-found confidence.  We had also spent three days surrounded by others who were happy, helpful, and expressing a good attitude about whatever they encountered.  I think that these attitudes are contagious and invigorating.

Kia Kaha – Forever Strong!
(that’s us!)

That next Sunday I was asked to speak in church along with one of our young women who had been on the hike.  She was getting nervous and I whispered to her, “You hiked that mountain.  You can do this.”  Her reply, “I would rather hike that mountain!”
So would I.

My hammock – hard to leave
such a beautiful campsite!

 

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