I spent hours last weekend talking to some amazing guys. Two men in particular Dan, a supporter of “Save the Peshastin Mill Waterfront” and Jeff an adventurous, goal-setter who just finished a six-month thru hike on the Pacific Crest Trail were especially inspiring and talkative. I enjoyed very much listening to them share what they know. Their stories, their passion and willingness to do things and protect the land were inspirational, invigorating and enlightening. I am humbled that men like these would give time to an inquisitive soul such as my own. They patiently answered my questions about their passions and accomplishments. Their stories and actions are worthy of being told and here is my little attempt to honor the things they have done and are still doing (although there will be more than just this about my PCT traveling friend).
On Saturday I attended an informational potluck to save the Peshastin Mill Waterfront. http://www.savepeshastinmillwaterfront.org/ This ¾ mile stretch of riverfront property is the last, longest piece of property that could be publicly owned along the Wenatchee River. Lacey Price coordinated and hosted an exquisite night of community gathering and information sharing about the Complete the Loop Coalition's vision to purchase the land and keep it available to the public in perpetuity. I came prepared for the event with my trusty notebook of questions which I had spent the last two weeks formulating with the help of other community members. In the end Bob Parlette was able to answer most of my questions about the Coalition's vision for the property, but Dan, probably because we were both helping at the ticket table all night, was the one who shared the most.
Dan is a retired veteran and I think he has an energy level that rivals my own. He has a knowledge base about our community and the piece of land in question that left me awed. He was quick and ready in second to answer any question anyone had about the project. Dan grew up fishing the very stretch of property that the Coalition is trying to preserve for the public. He is so passionate about keeping the area accessible that he devotes time, energy and service to save the land. For himself? No, not really. It was obvious in talking to him that he's a visionary. He is there for future generations as much as himself. He sees their need to have primitive lands to enjoy and is willing to sacrifice pieces of himself for them. It was an honor to spend that time in the presence of a man of his character.
Then came Sunday and a phone call that lasted nearly three and a half hours and still could have gone on longer. Treehouse, that's his trail name, finished hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail earlier this year. He's young full of life, strength and passion to see the world and test the limits of his own body. More than that, he sets goals and sticks to them. Not only has this guy hiked the PCT, he was the fifteenth person to circumnavigate Florida… in a kayak! The enthusiasm in his voice as he talked about his adventures and plans was palpable. For the second time in as many days I was in awe of a man and his deeds.
Like the older gentlemen of the night before, Treehouse is a man of action. He sets his mind to something and does it. His execution of the hike took a little longer than he planned but he made all 2600 miles of the trip and had some fun “side-trips” as well. Throughout the conversation he deflected compliments, humbly stating that adventure seeking was just what he did. But it's not just what he does. Treehouse also works with high-risk youth in middle grades. He is eager to share his passion and love of nature with a younger generation… and with older people like me. He had an answer for almost every question I asked and shared so many stories from along the trail.
The story of his trip down Mather Pass speaks to how quickly the weather can change everything about your plan. It was cold at the top… too cold and a storm had blown in with thunder and lightening. He was ready to come down as quickly as he could so he started to blaze a trail straight down the mountain instead of using the switchbacks that would take too much time to traverse. Treehouse said he seldom hiked without music in his ears (he admits he's especially fond of 80s ballads) and he had the volume up loud as he plowed down the trail. Through the blaring music, he thought he heard heavy thunder but when he turned to look back, he realized it was more than just noise. As best he can tell, the force of the thunder must have shaken some rocks loose and he had to take refuge behind a boulder while mountain flung debris down.
I am grateful for every story and minute he gave. He shared his experiences with me and now I know more about trail magic and the physical and mental challenges I'll face when I go someday. More than that I was struck once again at what an honor it was to spend time with a man of action. They are all around me, young men like Treehouse, working to conquer daring physical and mental feats; making me feel like an old mother listening to stories I would be proud to hear my own son tell someday. They are older, like Dan, and the Coalition board members, working to conquer commercialism and consumerism that might forever rob the world of primitive land; making me feel like I was twenty again with their comments about “young people” my age.
Not only were these weekend conversations enlightening, they were a contrast of age and ways to leave a mark on the world and also a confirmation of what I have been learning this year. Good men are active and present everywhere, they are respectable and honorable, they do things and are passionate about what they believe … and they are humble. They will not bring honor to themselves even though they are so deserving of it. And so… they have graciously allowed me the opportunity to talk about their adventures and plans and I hope I have done them all justice. Cheers to the men of my weekend!"