April 14, 2021
It happens every year. My sister adventure blogger starts posting about her 3:30 AM risings to drive for hours to snow-free trails closer to my house than to hers. While she’s on the road, I’m sitting at my desk by the electric fireplace writing about my parents’ war and waiting for the rising sun to cast its alpen glow on my distant mountain.
I start feeling like a slug and thinking maybe I won’t even want to hike this year at all, because I have no motivation now. Then I remember to ask myself, “Where is the evidence that will be the case?” There is no evidence. I’ll know when it’s time. One day the weather, my calendar, and my enthusiasm for the adventure will align, and I’ll be ready. It happens every year. Also, it’s not a competition.
On Sunday, this happened:
The family was with me until Wednesday; and it appeared I really was, finally, going to have to report for jury duty. I started praying to be excused, so I could find a trail on Thursday. Masked up, I walked into the cavernous fairgrounds building—the Covid-friendly courthouse alternative—at 8:45 Wednesday morning and was given the randomly assigned Juror #80 badge. The bailiff ushered me to my seat, one of some 100 chairs spaced six feet apart. He told those in the section at the end of the room there was something seriously wrong if we got asked any questions. My hike seemed to be a go.
I watched the video about my civic duty and how it would all go, listened to the judge’s instructions, raised my right hand and took the oath, and sat through voir dire for two and a half hours; first, questions for all of us (the balliff was mistaken), then individual questions to the first twenty jurors. “If you go to bed and there is no snow but when you wake up there is, what do you conclude?” It was a question about circumstantial evidence. I felt like I was watching an episode of “Bull.” I wondered if those questioned felt like they were taking an exam on material not covered in class. I was glad not to be in the front row.
I struggled to understand the questions with my diminished hearing (I need to make that audiology appointment—but I can’t this month because . . . jury duty), speakers wearing masks, microphones, crappy acoustics. It was very frustrating and I felt old. And then I was dismissed, as expected.
The family was gone when I got home, the last scheduled time both boys would be here. I’d moved downstairs for the seven and a half months of Pandemic School and online work, and given the moms my bed. It was time to reclaim my bedroom and ready the Airbnb space for reopening next weekend—and a reservation for it just came in. I spent the afternoon moving, making trail bars, and repacking my knapsack—including washing my brand new, non-leaking water bladder with an intact mouthpiece.
I’m up at 4:30 and at the coffee kiosk at 5:05, five minutes behind schedule. It’s an hour and fifteen minutes to Elk Rock viewpoint on the way to Mt. St. Helens’ from which to watch the sun come up over the ridge. But I’ve forgotten both that goal and how long it takes. I also make a wrong exit from the interstate. Or, more accurately, my orange Rogue is on autopilot and my brain is not engaged to overrule her. Our more traveled route, later in the season when the snow melts, is to Mt. Rainier and the back side of St. Helens, one exit before the one I want. That error costs me ten minutes.
I spend the drive half listening to a recorded book while thinking about options for my next legacy writing project and running through my ideas for marketing my memoir next year. My WWII letters book is wending its way toward the printing process. There are many projects to replace it, but I probably should get cracking on the memory book I volunteered to do (what was I thinking?) for my pandemic-postponed fiftieth high school reunion. Geez, I am old.
I stop at Coldwater Lake for the bathroom and to watch the sun coming up over the water, then cross the bridge to the Hummocks Trail loop. I have seen not a single car after Toledo, the last town. And none on the road there either, residents were still in bed. There is one car in the trailhead lot.
Hummocks is an easy loop trail, but I take the other fork first, thinking I’ll walk the Boundary West trail to the foot of the cliff then backtrack to the loop trail. I forgot about the upshit through the alder copse that comes before the cliff. By the time I’m winded, on this first hike of the season, I’m committed, so I keep trudging through the uphill loose gravel. There is a lovely sit rock at the top, which I’ve also forgotten about.
While I walk I write and rewrite the beginning of this post in my head, knowing I will forget by the time I sit down to put it on the screen. If the twittering birds could hear the racket in my head they would surely fly farther away. I sit on the rock and write it down so my head will shut up for the rest of the hike.
Back at the car, I return to the lake with my trail bar. What a glorious day. The thing about going to St. Helens before there are flowers and before the road to the visitors’ center is open and the more challenging hikes are snow-free, is there is still snow on the mountain. By the time the trails open, this volcano will be nearly bare. Also, no people. I saw one group on the trail, coming toward me near the end. Tiny people and their big people who all pulled their shirts up over their mouths and noses and waved, calling out a cheery “good morning!”
I’m home by 1:00, with energy to do one yard project before I shower then sit on the deck and read, St. Helens gleaming in the distance.
Next up, maybe jury duty again on Tuesday (I surely hope I’m not in the front row), unless they change it, in which case, Adrian duty in Seattle. Adrian, who didn’t want to go home this week and says he’s all in for Camp Gigi without his brother this summer. I can’t wait.