Saturday, September 15, 2007



I spent most of the summer cowering in my office and perspiring, but for one bright shining moment I did escape. With three robust men of the West, who get a lot more exercise than I do, I donned a 40-pound pack and climbed up to Hidden Lake, an opalescent beauty high in the Wallowa Mountains. The hike in was 8.2 miles. I was contemptuous of the so-called difficulty until the last mile or so, when the trail--consisting increasingly of dry creek beds full of melon-sized rocks--went straight uphill. I huffed, I puffed, I leaned against dozens of trailside fir trees, which deposited sap on the back of my new microfiber hiking shirt. Nature is no good. There's only one bird that I can identify: the Steller's Jay, with its festive black-and-blue crest and mania for mud-based construction. Shek, shek, shek is the distinctive call, which I didn't hear, since we didn't encounter any. On the second day, after we had made camp in a nice clearing above the lake, we went hiking. One of my companions took this video of me descending a steep scree. The rocks were friable little bastards, crumbling away under your feet, hence my fussy probing of the terrain. On the bright side, I didn't fall down.

Better you than me up there, James. I get nervous on a ladder.
Hi Charles, always nice to hear from you. To be honest, I'm not great with heights myself. At the top of that scree was another steep climb, leading to a stony knob at about 8,000 feet. While I was on that knob, batting away large black flies that appeared to made of metal as well as a swarm of ladybugs, I dug my heels into the dirt, because I was worried I would be blown down the slope. Very relaxing. Also fun to recollect in tranquility.
Ach! A heartrending account. It reminds me of my sister, who, when I mocked her years and years ago for refusing to go camping, replied: "Where am I supposed to plug in my hairdryer?" I think she was right. I'm very impressed that you know a birdcall.
Hi James, I liked the video very much. And I have to say I sort of relish the thought of you bedeviled by a swarm of ladybugs.
Speak of the devil, it's Claire. How are you, anyway? I'm glad you liked the video. The swarm of ladybugs was a surprise: I always think of them as such cute little things--animated buttons with ceramic helmets--but these seemed to be biting. So I was glad to get off that knob, even though all the downhill stuff was making my right knee hurt. Level ground is generally better.
I'm good. We're living in Boulder right now. Lots of scree, few ladybugs. Mountain living agrees with Mr. B. And it's good to have a break from all things Seattle. Speaking of Seattle, Emily W. is the new arts czar at the P-I and she's doing a great job; it's worth tracking from afar.

Also, I love your blog.
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