Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Life Can Turn On A Dime

The tragedy of three climbers losing their lives on Mt. Hood this week, all due to unusually bad weather and the injury of one of the climbers touched a nerve.
Whether sailing the ocean, mountaineering, hang gliding, or any hobby having an element of danger, death or serious injury can happen to anyone.

Sailing alone I have remind myself that a sudden jibe may result in the boom snapping about quickly and hit me on the head. It's not unlikely that I'd either be knocked out and/or tossed overboard leaving the craft to head down wind without its skipper.
Then what? Good question with no answer, at least not today.

"Nothing is going to happen to me" nevertheless remains a constant for those stepping outside the boundaries of Mother Nature.

Four fishermen were lost Saturday when their large commercial fishing boat capsized while attempting to cross the Rogue River sandbar into the ocean. They were an experienced crew who had crossed the Rogue River sandbar hundreds of times.

Last week three experienced climbers perished during inclement weather on Mt. Hood.
A year ago while visiting Sacamento Candace and I paused at a crosswalk and waited for the light to turn green. As the light turned green I started to step off of the curb and into the street when I felt a firm tug on my jacket pulling me back to the sidewalk.

Just then a car passed within inches of where I was about to walk having shut shot a red light. Had Candace not pulled me back onto the sidewalk I hate to think of what would have happened. The good Lord and Candace were watching over old Bob that day.

"Nothing is going to happen to me?" Life can turn on a dime and it does, even when crossing the street.

The pictures posted of Mt. Thielsen in Oregon are here for a reason: Candace and I are planning to climb Thielsen this summer, a goal we've had on the "to do" list for a while.

It's a 9-10 hour climb to Thielsen's 9,182 foot summit garnering an increase of 3,782 feet in elevation from base camp to the top.
Thielsen was once a volcano. Glaciers removed much of the volcano formation.

She's old lady, Mt. Thielsen. At 290,000 years of age, she's called the Lightning Rod of the Cascades. The very top of her is mostly glass created by rocks fried with every lightning strike.
There's a box at the summit of Mt. Thielsen for all successful climbers to leave their name and a handwritten message. With each lightning strike, I wonder if there's anything left of the box. Must be made of Kryptonite.

They say there are no markers for the trail to the top of Mt. Thielsen. We'll need to strew bread crumbs along the way to the top to insure a speedy and safe return to base camp.

The last 200 feet of the climb is hand over hand because of the rock debris and the steepness of this part of the mountain.

Candace and I will climb until we hit the top of Thielsen or stop when it feels that we're at the limit of our endurance or skills. Safety first.

Our lives are not going to turn on any dime. And there's no crosswalks on the mountain so I have to worry that a car is going to run a red light.

This week's loss of three lives on Mt. Hood brought to mind something that naturalist John Muir said a very long time ago:

John Muir said:
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine blows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
Right on, John baby.

Those who climb the highest see the farthest.

Come August, Candace and I will do a full assault, as they say, on Mt. Thielsen.

I can't say that I won't be thinking of the three men lost on Mt. Hood when we make this climb because I will.

As we traverse the trail up the mountain I'll also be thinking of my cousin Mark. He climbed Thielsen alone a dozen or more years ago. At a very young age, Mark took his life.

Following in Mark's footsteps will make the climb even more special. I have a sense that he'll be with me every step of the way. Posted by Picasa

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Whiskeytown Lake, Very Northern California, United States