Contemplation and a Break

Winter Contemplation

 

Every once in a while we need to just sit back and think. Or not think, as the case may be. Find a quiet, secluded spot, make ourselves comfortable, and contemplate. Perhaps it is our navels, perhaps it is the mysteries of the cosmos, and perhaps it’s just frustration with Edith Crawley’s simpering melodrama — but these large issues need time.

In a city that knows how to keep its secrets, I will be contemplating the answers to life’s persistent questions*, and so will be a little quiet for a bit. In a few weeks, though, I’ll be back in force, never fear.

Embed from Getty Images

 

* Bonus points if you know the source of my paraphrasing.

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The Open Road

Open Road

 

Drifting snow snakes across the highway,
Steaming like a young woman’s dreams
Of the life she left behind her,
In the rear-view mirror, no more to be seen.

Far ahead stretches the long and lonesome road,
Curving over hill and dale,
Reaching ever forward to horizons,
No arrival, always on the trail.

Mountains yet stand sentinel,
Sheathed all in white,
Passes to be crossed between
Today and endless night,
That which came before her, and
Ahead still out of sight.

Precarious to navigate,
Downgrade in low gear,
Long-haul truckers keeping
Company with her fear,
But the tires keep their traction
And she puts them to her rear.

The tires sing out their lonely
One note melody,
The white line draws a promise of
A brighter future yet to be,
If she can but follow and
Open eyes to see;
He is far behind her and
Now she’s finally free.

Go Far

Ama Dablam and Kangtega in the Solukhumbu range of the Himalaya

Ama Dablam and Kangtega in the Solukhumbu range of the Himalaya

A thousand miles and more
Beyond the Bosphorus and the Levant,
Far along the Karakoram Way,
Past the ancient city of Tashkent.

Dusty Kathmandu beckons,
With Thamel’s every trackless street,
Spin the wheels at Boudhanath,
And the temple monkeys to greet.

Looming distant beyond the valley,
Rising above the smoke and haze,
Gleaming, jagged, white with summer snow,
The Solukhumbu commands your gaze.

From Lukla’s first tilted landing,
And the winding paths of Namche Bazar,
Along narrow depths of the Dudh Kosi valley,
Steep trails promise to take you far.

The welcoming arms of Ama Dablam
Smiling over the milk river below,
Guarding over the school in Khumjung,
Tengboche’s chanting, yet still far to go.

The Pheriche valley is a welcome path,
Stone homesteads and herds of yak;
A sombre memorial at Thokla Pass
For those who didn’t make it back.

Wild horses roam Lobuche;
Gorak Shep, last chance for tea;
The Khumbu Glacier is now the road,
High Himal everywhere to see.

Nuptse looms, Pumori beckons,
Kala Patthar provides the view,
Yet still you press on farther,
Unsure of what you came to do.

The Khumbu continues upward
Beyond the grim and frozen fall,
Inexorable, rising, air ever thinning
Beneath high Lhotse’s mighty wall.

Steeply ascending, jumars on the rope,
South Col will be your final rest,
A camp too high for long to stay,
So press on to the final test.

Lamplight climbing, past Hillary Step,
Sunrise on the last ridge line,
Gleaming on all the peaks below,
You stand now there in bright sunshine.

Sagarmatha holds you in her arms,
Upon her grace you now depend;
The Roof of the World, Peak Fifteen,
Look quick, it’s time to descend.

The world all lies below you,
Nothing now stands as high;
Yet you cannot stay, it’s not your realm,
If you linger you will die.

A fast descent, a steady walk,
Back down the valleys below,
The villages and teahouses greet you,
Another traveler, with their welcome glow.

Of the high places of the world,
Stories you now have to tell,
Yet what you will remember best
Are the people who helped you well.

Tsering, Pemba, Pasang, Phurba,
Without them you would surely fall,
Lhakpa, Dawa, Mingma, Dorje,
There beside you, and sturdy all.

In your armchair by the fire,
You still see their faces clear,
The Sherpa of the Solukhumbu,
To your heart remain forever near.

Revitalizing

Lake 22 Trail

Some of you may recall that I have been struggling with a hurt knee throughout the spring and summer. Today I got back in that saddle and went for my first actual hike since doing the damage, and the knee came through fine! I’m still doing physical therapy, and I’m not all the way healed yet — I have to be careful when I walk, think about foot placement, and be conscious of how the muscles in my leg are pulling in different directions — but this is a huge step forward for me.

Today’s trail is a very popular one in the Pacific Northwest, and had long been on my radar, but for whatever reason I had never actually hiked it before. Lake 22 supposedly gets its name from 19th-century railroad maps, which listed each creek numerically. While the others went on to receive proper names, the numbers for “Creek 22” and its source lake simply stuck. The trail isn’t very long, at 5-1/2 miles round-trip, but that was perfect for me as a knee tester. It climbs fairly steadily through a beautiful forest, with simply dozens of waterfalls along the way, some of which are quite large. Some sections of the trail are extremely well-maintained, as you can see in the photo above, while others were fairly rough, with fallen boulders to scramble over, and some water on the trail.

Regardless, the view at the top makes everything worthwhile.

Lake 22Thanks for following along on this admittedly off-topic post, but hey, it’s my blog, and I’ll post what I want to, right? 🙂