Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mt. Defiance

Yesterday our basic climbing class embarked on its final conditioning hike.  The goal was Mt. Defiance, the highest point in the Columbia River gorge.  Students were to carry one-fifth of their body weight in their backpacks and expected to hike up this steep trail at 1000 feet per hour.  On Thursday I had a Sport Medicine Doctor take a look at my knee.  He had X-rays taken, poked at prodded, and then twisted my leg various directions.  He did not think there was any serious injuries and I was free to return to my various activities as I saw fit.  He did caution to not take any long hikes this weekend.  Our team leader asked if I would join the group and stay with one student who was slow and not expected to summit.  He pointed out to me that part of Leadership Development was learning to work with the slowest members of a climbing team.  If my leg bothered me another assistant could take my place and I could return to the trailhead.  My leg was feeling better so I agreed to go.  However, as I started up the trail the muscles in my leg were feeling strained.  Every fiber in my body (especially around my knee) was telling me to turn around as the words of the doctor were ringing in my ears, so I bailed.  It just was not worth risking further injury.

The trail to Mt. Defiance starts at Starvation Creek State Park.  It was here in the Winter of 1884/1885 a train bound for Portland was stranded for three weeks due to high snow drifts.  Every passenger survived and no one starved, but the lack of food earned the creek, waterfall, and park the name of starvation.  As I soaked my leg in the ice cold creek I reminded myself that my situation is far less dire as those train passengers.  That every setback is still an opportunity to learn and grow.  I am pleased to report that all of the students of our team made it to the summit of Mt. Defiance.  One of the students even credited me for getting better at packing her backpack.

Today a gal that I know from the Adventurous Young Mazamas organized a Middle Eastern Dinner party.  We assembled in the afternoon and prepared Hummus, Falafel, a Middle Eastern Salad, and a middle eastern tortilla.  Yours truly donned his Swedish apron and fried the Falafel.  Thanks for the evening Melissa!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Exercise on sitting still

This weekend I made the right decision.  Then I made the wrong decision.  Then I made the right decision.  It is pretty typical for me.  I am still feeling the effects of that unplanned pendulum swing that I took while rappelling at Horsethief Butte last Sunday.  So, all week I drove to work, didn't take any walks during lunchtime and did not swim laps at the local pool.  I really missed these activities.  After the navigation practice on Thursday it became clear that I should not go up to Timberline with our team for the Snow Field Session.  I missed this even more.  At times I notice improvement in my leg.  However, it is hard to stay off my feet, which I should be doing.  Especially when I have flowers that my neighbors gave me that I wanted to get into the ground.  Whenever I cook or iron my shirts, I'm on my feet.  I did resist the temptation to mow the lawn and wash the car.  I did spent time just sitting in the easy chair, just watching out the window.  Perhaps recovering from an injury is like climbing up a scree slope, give yourself credit for the two steps up and don't lose faith when you slide back one.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Working On Staying Found

Thursday evening our climbing class team assembled at Council Crest Park, the highest point in Portland, to practice our navigation skills.  The weather was forgiving as we practiced with our compasses.  As we were comparing bearings one lady shared a poem with us.  So, to add some culture to this blog I am going to share that poem with you.

By David Wagoner

Stand still.  The trees and bushes beside you
Are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes.  Listen.  It answers,
I have made this place around you.  
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost.  Stand still.  The forest knows
Where you are.  You must let it find you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Horsethief Butte

Early this morning I stumbled out of bed at an early hour, because today was the day that our team from the climbing class would practice rock climbing at Horsethief Butte.  The other instructors and I arrived a couple of hours before the busload the students to set up the ropes.  This has always been my favorite part.  I helped build a couple of anchors and put in a fixed line.  It felt great to share what I knew and learn a couple of things as well.  The students arrived a hour late because the bus had mechanical problems.  Upon arrival they practice bouldering, ascending via the fixed line, belaying, and rappelling.  I went for a rappel as well, unfortunately as I lowered myself over the edge I rolled to the side and banged my leg.  Ouch.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

And a ship with eight sails..

Friday night I rode my bike to the University of Portland campus and watched the play The Threepenny Opera.  It has been years since my German instructor introduced me to the works of Bertold Brecht, yet the Ballad of Mac the Knife has often been with me.  When I learned last November that this play would be running here in North Portland, I made sure to save the date.  I had seen the play in Munich, this was the first time I would hear it in English.  As the cast sang songs such as the 'Useless Song' I found myself returning my German classroom at Denny Hall, the Berliner Ensemble Theater in Berlin, Burgtheater in Vienna, and Muenchener Volkstheater in Munich.  What really moved me was the song Pirate Jenny.  I found myself hanging on every note as the spotlight focused on the actress.  It is a delightfully cynical play, especially the parody of happy endings at the finale.  The only downside was that I would have liked to spend time after the play with the friends that joined me.  However, it seemed like we all had plans for Saturday morning and therefore wanted to get to bed.

Today I led a hike to Kings Mountain for our BCEP team.  Originally I wanted to take them along the Elk King Traverse.  However, the snow pack is 250 percent above average in the Costal Range.  After researching trail conditions, I thought it would be wise not to take the students along this quasi scramble.  The weather was glorious and the snow was soft.  At times I doubted my decision.  However, I have realized part of being a leader is making peace with my decisions.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Daphne Transplant

Sunday was a big day for the flower bed outside of my front door.  My mother and I took the Winter Daphne out of its pot and transplanted into the flower bed.  I also selected two Spanish Lavenders to plant on each side of the Daphne.  Hopefully their fragrance and purple colors will blossom after the Daphne is finished for the year.  In addition we planted some Hyacinths.  Inside Dad and I finished up the interiors doors that we had been working on for some time.

Yesterday our basic climbing class swung into high gear as we assembled at Rocky Butte Park to practice rock climbing, belaying, and repelling.  Although it was relatively dry, the rock was wet and cold, which made climbing a challenge for the students.  I got the chance to demonstrate a Carabiner Brake Rappel, something that I have not done for some time.  Thankfully I did not have to demonstrate the Dulfersitz Rappel Method.