Sauer’s Mountain

Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm”   -John Muir

It’s Earth Week, a time of global awareness, appreciation and action for our fragile planet. It’s hard to imagine sometimes that we can do much as individuals, but together, we can do so much. The theme this year is RESTORE OUR EARTH. This week the global community is focusing on natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking that can restore the earth’s eco-systems. 

I am pondering what I can do to contribute. 

My day began before dawn so I tossed my journal into my daypack and headed over Snoqualmie Pass to a new-to-me place for a morning hike. My destination was Sauer’s Mountain. A place with a story. 

I have had this hike on my radar for a couple years. Many friends had hiked this storied trail and I knew I would get there someday. This was my someday. I did my due diligence in researching latest trip reports only to discover that the voice of this story had fallen silent on the first day of this year. 

Sauer’s Mountain trail was built with heart and pure grit by Leonard Sauer. For years, he allowed access through his private property to connect with trail extending into the National Forest. In early spring it is a prime destination for the wildflowers that line the trail all the way to the summit. 

Leonard was known to sit with his dog Blue at the beginning of the trail and greet hikers. That’s what I had hoped for. A visit to hear his story. He passed on January 1st at the age of 90. I’ve linked a tribute article about Leonard Sauer at the end of this post. His son, Welcome, has continued the tradition of allowing hikers to access the trail through their property. The lower trail is dotted with carvings done by Leonard himself. Such a generous gift to the rest of us. Please take a moment to read about this generous man’s rich legacy.

I arrived in the tiny town of Peshastin, population just over 1610, at ten minutes before 8. I was the fourth in a small parking lot that holds maybe 8 cars. My only worry on this day was snakes, as I know there are rattlers on this side of the state. (I had two moments where something scurried off into the brush, but thankfully I never saw what it was. Probably just a lizard, though they’re pretty big out here …)

The trail is spectacular ! The balsamroot lines the narrow path with more yet to bloom. As you climb, there is lupine and bluebells, phlox and avalanch lilies. A left at the first fork leads you to excellent views of the Wenatchee River Valley and the peaks surrounding you. Icicle Ridge looms in front of you, and views of Glacier Peak are stunning. 

Before I’m even .75 miles in, my camera malfunctions. I try the classic “remove the battery” trick, but it is a hardware malfunction not to be helped by a simple reset. I’m devastated in that moment. Not for the day ahead but for the trips I’ll be taking in the next two months. I try some troubleshooting on the trail, but nope, it’s not working. 

Remember those dreams of last week ? The ones about losing my camera ? Looks like they were a premonition of sorts. I’ve lost it but not in the way I had thought or dreamed. I stuff it into my pack and move on. Hard to be mad about anything up here. Besides, my phone works just fine on hikes. The birds on my morning walks will be another story …

This will also be the day of bumping up against my own limitations. As I near the summit, I hit the old forest road and stare up at the rock and dirt wall in front of me. You’re kidding, right ? My wrists no longer bend in a way that would support me on this climb. I go half-way, but realize that even though I could probably get up just fine, coming down will be tricky. 

Too much hands and knees. And I’m alone. A stupid fall might ruin my summer and I don’t need to go the hundred more yards to sign the register. I walk back to the little clearing where I can sit with my journal and gaze lovingly at the peaks. 

On the way down, I run into a handsome young man, blond and muscled, carrying a large cinder block taped to a heavy board. I ask about it as he approaches. He says he works for the forest service and is training for fire season. Forest fires are inevitable, though I hope for a boring summer for him. It gives me hope to see young people active in the forest service. It is balance to the anti-mask, young people leaving their plastic bottles and beer cans in otherwise pristine natural places. 

Having bumped up against my limitations and enjoying the day sans the camera I rely on, it wasn’t like the day I had (foolishly) planned in my head. There is freedom in flexibility and serenity in limited expectations of a day.

Let all things be as they are. 

My friend Gretchen posed an interesting couple of questions after my Dreamscape post. She pondered a day on the trail free of a camera: ” How would it change my experience ? Am I addicted to it ? Can I not see without it ? Or do I see better with it ? “

I got to consider these things as I meandered down. Really good questions. Insightful, even in the asking.

I still took photos with my phone. I don’t think I’ll ever NOT take a visual record. I share with so many who can’t make these trips and I feel like it matters to be able connect others to this world I wander into.   

(You can find the link to Gretchen’s blog: Writing Down the Story here on my page under the heading “Blogs I Follow”. A fellow adventurer, we cover a lot of ground in the hiking months … )

I’m really grateful for these days. New places, new trails, new revelations. I’m feeling really strong. Better than I have in months but I am cautious knowing that pushing a limit might ruin me for the rest of summer. It’s still early. There is so much still to see. First up: The Redwoods !

As for the camera ? It’s under warranty still and I even bought insurance beyond that. We’ll see how good a company Nikon really is based on their timely response to this repair. I am hopeful. Stay tuned. 

As for Earth Week … I can begin where I am. My yard could use a little love. Not weedkiller, but attention, which is love’s purest demonstration. And I’ll take my grabber out to the Environmental Park and pick up what trash I can. Begin where we are. There are worlds even in our own backyards.

The world’s big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.

-John Muir

You can read the tribute to Leonard Sauer here.

8 Comments on “Sauer’s Mountain

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Cell phones do well with close ups and landscapes not so much with birds and wildlife. So I’ll look forward to a different perspective until you get your camera back.

    • Thanks, Joan. I’ve become so spoiled. Haven’t even heard back from Nikon so we’ll see how this goes. I’m heading out tomorrow with binoculars in my pack instead. No bad days in Paradise. Thanks for writing.

  2. Thank you for making do, for being cautious, and for the picture taking. I’m enjoying Washington from my couch. I too wonder if an outing counts if I don’t take pictures (albeit with just my phone camera). Whether I blog it or not, I like looking back and also comparing the flora from year to year.

    • Thank you for that. I think every outing counts whether we document it with word or pictures or not. I never want to get so caught up with the recording of it that I miss the important things. Maybe the dreams and the malfunction are connected and gently slowly me down. Attention is everything. Thanks for writing.

  3. Another wonderful blog with incredible photos! Thanks so much!!

    • Thanks, Kathy. I really haven’t explored out there much and it is gorgeous ! Maybe a return trip before the flowers disappear. Thanks so much for writing.

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