Big City Mountaineers Olympic National Park

“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are"

Big City Mountaineers Trip…. Leader/Instructor for a group of under resourced boys from the Washington Boys/Girls Club -July 6-14 2014

I just returned from Oregon/Washington where wildfires are growing at a rapid pace as lightning and human error spark drought-stricken forests.I could see the fires from the plane when returning home and it brought my spirits down after a great trip. 

Pre-trip, I stayed at the unique Kennedy McMenamins School in a Portland neighborhood for a few days. It is a hotel converted from a school that was built in 1915. It is one of the coolest places that I have ever stayed. My room was a former classroom complete with cloak rooms and chalkboards. The school has a soaking pool, several great bars/restaurants, a movie theatre and a BREWERY!  I always wanted to have a brew in the classroom! There is extensive original art work and historical photographs that cover the walls, ceilings, doorways and hallways.

North Fork Skomish Trail

Our group experienced absolutely perfect weather in the temperate rain forest until the last night when we had  an electrical storm that always makes me nervous when I have young kids. 

I have lead 13 trips for Big City and I do believe that my volunteers were the best that I have had.  The kids (12 and 13 year olds)  just crushed 30 miles of backpacking and a steep 2700’ summit climb to First Divide. All went very well. One of the young guys only weighed 60 pounds, but carried a 45 pound pack and never once complained, and had a smile on his face most of the time.

We all saw some wonderful wildlife…..several grouses, a pond with frogs and salamanders AND………a gorgeous black bear that was within six feet, walking along a 
giant fallen Sitka spruce. Mr. Bear just looked at us curiously and then turned around and headed the other direction. 

The trail is under a canopy of large old trees, many 100 years old and 250 feet in height and some 60 inches in circumference. The forest had a “jungle like” feel with plants growing on other plants, mosses ferns and lichens on tree trunks and branches. The western hemlocks were giants!! 

The boys stopped along the way and picked huckleberries and blueberries. For my birthday I was presented with a pan of berries and a snickers bar with lit twigs simulating candles on top and a “Happy Birthday” song at camp. It was one of the most memorable birthdays in my life.

These trips are always very rewarding in terms of seeing the personal growth of the boys. They were great kids and I already miss them.  I LOVE these boys!!
 Their youth director, Tim is one of the finest, most caring people I have ever known.

Saying our goodbyes was emotional and difficult.  These boys have many challenges ahead and I know that they will all play a bad hand well and overcome them.

After cleaning and organizing the gear for the next group, Cory Patrick, Tim and I enjoyed the afternoon at a neighborhood Portland  tavern. It was sooooo much fun, and I already miss those fine people with excellent backcountry and interpersonal skills.  Saying our goodbyes was also difficult. I consider all three of them now good friends.

I am so thankful for the beautiful time that we shared together.
This was going to be my last BCM trip but now I am reconsidering doing just one more year.

No comments: