No, I did not get swallowed by a big black bass in Lake Winnipesaukee, nor fall off my favorite cliffs in the White Mountains. But I did indulge my passion for swimming early in the morning, and enjoyed the solitary serenity of my New Hampshire woods for a few weeks and the less serene return of my children for a birthday celebration I will always remember. If I ever sort out the thousands of photos that digital cameras encourage you to take, I shall post a few on Facebook. They’re not all of exotic countries. Some are of the beautiful New England landscape, the sunsets behind Rattlesnake Mountain across the lake, and the back roads and little towns of both New Hampshire and Vermont, where I spent a most glorious July. Thanks to the Goodmans, who have a barn near Stratton Mountain in Vermont, I was able to work my way back to life in these Excited States in slow stages. And now I’ve taken possession of my home, again, just in time to leave it for the Northwest.
Those who think that all the good trekking is overseas need to visit the great Northwest…the Cascades and the Olympics, where you can find snow even in July and come upon challenging blow-downs at the most inopportune times. They don’t believe in clearing the trails in the backwoods, but leave the old trees to rot and refurbish the forest. I always think of those forests as New Hampshire with hormones. The trees are so grand and the woods so deep and dark and mysterious. I could wander through them for days.
This year my climbing buddy from the Himalayas, Jon Pollack, and I won’t be going to Rainier, but after a visit on Whidbey Island with my daughter, Cary, will do a three-day backpack in the Olympics before heading for British Columbia, the Assiniboine Mountains, Banff, Lake Louise, and Lake O’Hara. I’ve visited this part of Canada, but never camped by the lakes or climbed on the surrounding trails. My son, Christopher, told me that he felt that Lake O’Hara was the most exquisite lake on the face of the earth.
I try to visit the Seattle area once a year to get my Pacific fix and see old friends. Frequent flyer miles make it possible. But even so, because of high gas prices and the need to helicopter into the Assiniboines, this trip may cost me more than my recent seven weeks in Asia. Hard to believe, eh? But you know me. Traveling off the beaten track is my specialty. The U.S. and Europe are fast becoming too expensive for this ancient wanderer.