June 7, 2010
This past week was the opera's third (and final) furlough week of the 2009-2010 season. I spent the first furlough riding my horse, cleaning the apartment, and generally enjoying a really wonderful week at home catching up on my loafing. The second furlough took place over the holidays; I was at home with my family.
I spent part of this final furlough with an old friend from high school, who came to town Tuesday for his first visit to the northwest, to be split between seeing Portland and backpacking.
We're in the middle of a seemingly endless wet spell, which is trying the patience of all but the most seasoned Portlanders. (Like some others, I am frankly about to lose my mind). We got lucky this week and the weather mostly cooperated.
We left for our trip on Wednesday, though much later than we had planned because we were both too tired Tuesday night to pack. In the end, it worked out swimmingly: it rained the entire drive but cleared up the moment I hit Olympic National Forest.
We hiked along the Duckabush River; it was fun to hear my friend's awed take on the intensely verdant old growth forest, a setting not uncommon around here, and one I've become surprisingly used to. We didn't start hiking until after 4 PM, but managed to make it to the five mile marker, set up, cook dinner, and hang our bear bag just before dusk, with impeccable timing.
I was really proud to remember a useful knot for the bear bag. Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE knots? I added about a dozen of them to my repertoire several years ago, while dating a boy scout troop leader. I even went so far as to create a knot board -- a display of the knots you've learned -- and was informally inducted into "the order of the knot." (I have the certificate to prove it). Sadly, though I have a sharp memory, it's impressively terrible at remembering how to tie cool knots. So it was a total kick to tie the hitch for our bear bag and have my friend sincerely admire it.
The next day we decided to leave everything set up and hike further into the park without our packs in order to cover more ground. It turned out to be a great plan; the weather started out nice but got progressively more ominous as the day wore on. We hiked about five miles before hitting a stream crossing that required too much effort and potential soaked-ness to cross. On our way back it was decided that we'd seen about as much as we could see on our current trail, which (although beautiful) did not intersect with any other trails for at least 15 miles. We concluded that neither of us wanted to sleep in the potentially pouring rain only to hike back out in the morning, so we came home a day early. It did in fact pour the entire next day, so I felt pretty good about the decision. Instead of backpacking on Friday, we met up with another old friend from school, drank coffee, and then played video games on my old Nintendo.
By the way, I gamed the system a little bit: backpacking in Olympic National Park has been on my to-do list for several years, but I did put it on the list intentionally this year knowing with certainty that it would get done less than a week later. The list's rules are always in flux, people.
My vacation was bookended by two deliciously lazy weekends spent in better company than I could hope to ask for. Today I have that wonderful, exhausted feeling of needing a vacation after your vacation. In this case it means the week was well spent. I'll take it.