Thursday, February 5, 2009
I'm the first to admit I don’t always pay full attention to what I'm doing. Okay, even the slightest bit of attention. The latest evidence is that I had the delightful experience of winning a giveaway this week—and I didn’t even know I had entered! Sher over at the Oldtime Me Artist blog left a message saying she had a surprise for me. Little did she know how much of a surprise. I left a comment on her post a few days ago in which she shows a crocus making its way into the light. I had no idea she was running a month long giveaway, but as the happy winner, Sher, I think it's a great idea. I think she's doing another giveaway for February so get on over there and leave a comment! I'm so excited that I've won a vintage apron and several other things.
Entering a blog giveaway is not my first, nor largest, unconscious act. I think that honor would have to go to the time I climbed Mt. Hood without knowing it.
Long, long ago (she said, putting on her storyteller voice) we lived in the beautiful far away land of Oregon. We heard or read somewhere about a little forest service campground called Tilly Jane, located it on a map, packed up our 1969 Chevy van, grabbed the dog, and off we went. The map we used to get there was our regular Rand McNally book of the entire country. Good maps but not very detailed. I remember there was a little x on the map labeled Mt. Hood, and it was over there and we were over here, and I figured it was the next mountain over. We turned off the highway and started up the last 14 miles, which was a one lane gravel road. Took about an hour to go those 14 miles, but it was worth it. Tilly Jane Campground was absolutely beautiful. You parked at the base of the camp and carried your stuff in, and we were the only ones there. Trees about a mile tall, silence except for the birds, and air so clean and pure you felt you had just discovered what breathing was all about.
We set up our camp and decided to explore a bit. On the far side of the campground a trail meandered upward, with a small sign reading “To the Summit.” It was latish in the afternoon by now, so we thought we’d take a little stroll to the top of the mountain we were on so we could look over at Mt. Hood as the sun went down. We could see its snow covered top in the distance, beyond the ridge we took to be the top of our mountain.
Can you tell we grew up on the prairies?
The trail crossed a little creek, then started to climb in earnest. And climb. And climb and climb and climb. My husband and the dog were bounding upward like a couple of mountain goats, with me toiling along, getting further and further behind. Let’s just say I'm not of a body type built for mountain hiking. Every step became an act of sheer will, and my head began to pound. I’m sure I had read about the effect of altitude on oxygen but as far as I knew that was in the Himalayas or somewhere, not where I was. (Tilly Jane is at 5000 feet—I just looked it up.) I finally said enough and sat down on a rock, heaving the thin air up and down in my lungs. Steven circled back to check on me. “You go on, I'll wait here,” I told him. He said he’d just be a few more minutes.
So I sat alone on whatever the heck mountain it was, watching the shadows lengthen in the immense distance below. My legs began to feel like part of my body again, and my heart slowed to its normal thumpety thump. After a bit I heard footsteps, and Steven and Kate joined me on my rock.
“Guess what,” he said. “That ridge up there is just a ridge, not the top.”
“Oh, yes?” I said politely.
“Yeah. It swoops down a little and then goes up to the snow. We’re on Mt. Hood.”
I felt a bit silly and very Midwestern all the way back to our camp.
A couple of years later we camped again at Tilly Jane with some friends, and they took our picture at just about the spot I'd watched the sunset. And life has been full of surprises ever since.