There is so much to write. Books. Adventures. Due Date.
Books: Let’s cut to the chase; what are we reading now? I have two books for you.
Thirty years ago I read Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth”.
How do I know what I was reading thirty years ago?
It was a memorable time for me. I was spending the days and nights nursing my new baby girl. And in true book lover fashion, I nursed my newborn and read my book simultaneously. “Pillars of the Earth” was a great choice for reading at 2:00 a.m. as it is not only an engaging page turner with a “soap opera” style family saga, it is also over 900 pages. I found a copy of “Pillars of the Earth” at a used book store in Missoula and gave it to Hannah to read while nursing her baby at 2:00 a.m. (Assuming the baby daddy has finished as he started it first and it is on the list to be packed in his hospital bag.)
Ironically, Ken Follett, published the prequel to “Pillars of the Earth” thirty years later. How did he know? Now, thirty years later I am reading “The Evening and the Morning” as I wait for the arrival of my baby girl’s baby girl. This prequel is also a good read. A book that you can get lost in and even lose track of time or forgo your bedtime in order to read twenty more pages. There are lots of characters with odd sounding names, but you must push through that and believe in your brain to keep it all straight. Trust me.
A two book recommendation. It works. Stay home. Vote. Read.
“Pillars of the Earth” and/or “The Evening and the Morning”; I highly recommend them both.
Adventures: As horrible as the pandemic has been for our world, it has proven to be a good thing for my outdoor adventures and a huge boost in my backpacking career. Nothing says quarantine like a four day backpack or a seven day white water river trip in wilderness areas with few to no people.
The season started out with a shake down one nighter up Boulder Creek where I learned about the new and updated gear for making backpacking lighter and easier on the knees. All of my gear was clearly outdated and needed an upgrade. New gear is exciting and not cheap. I’m gradually transitioning to the latest and greatest gear to make my backpacking doable and keep my body happy.
The summer epic hike was a five day 50 mile through hike on the Selway River. Next, an evening at an historic fire lookout located 8000 feet above sea level. Then, later in the summer, a three day 21 mile basecamp hike up Big Creek. Followed by a four day through hike up Fred Burr and out Mill Creek, where we took a side hike up to a high alpine lake in which the trail description in our hiking book included “relentlessly exhausting”. This was followed by a late fall, 90 mile white water rafting trip on the Salmon River. And finally, my hiking partners and I planned a mid October four day through hike; pending the Montana weather. Ah…..”pending the Montana weather”.
It started out looking nearly perfect. Four sunny, somewhat warm days, sandwiched between rainy cooler weather. But this is the Rocky Mountains. There are no weather guarantees. We soon changed to a three day in and out, but were still happy with getting out for a few nights before winter puts the kibosh on our backpacking. Just before we were ready to leave we changed again. Not only changing our number of nights to one, but changing our trail to one with less elevation gain in order to stay below the snow.
We met up at the designated time and place as it continued to sprinkle rain from the storm that was soon to be over. We drove north towards our trailhead watching the dark storm clouds engulf every mountain drainage we passed. “Maybe we should stop and have a cup of tea in town.” I suggested. Everyone was game. We didn’t really want to start out our trip cold and wet. We stalled for at least an hour at a local coffee shop. Mostly, the rain had stopped but the dark heavy clouds were all that we saw over the Bitterroot Mountains. At the trailhead we strapped on our packs and rain gear. It did stop raining. It turned to snow. More like graupel. Yep, it graupelled a lot.
We arrived at the three mile point which had several good camping sites. We made note of these sites just in case we had to come back and camp here. Our goal was nine miles in. At about four and a half miles we were hiking in a good inch of snow. We knew that nine miles in was not going to be a good place to camp. At mile six we turned around. About an hour later we were taking off our packs at the three mile campsite we had passed earlier. The wind had picked up and was coming down through the canyon from the snowy, wintery high elevation. In other words, it was not a warm breeze. Quite chilly on our sweaty wet clothes. We were not excited to set up camp AND we were only three miles from the car. I had a quick snack, added another layer of clothing and we headed out. It was a beautiful hike. A twelve mile out and back with a fully loaded backpack. And in that twelve miles we planned several more backpacking trips for next year.
More great book suggestions and epic adventures can be found at Wild About Books.