Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Twenty-one days ago, I achieved my goal! Part Two: How We Got It Done! Love and caring, two great ingredients in my determination.



Two of our fine friends from California, Danielle and Meehan, decided to go with my sons Lamont and Leland and me to make my goal of walking from the Larch Mountain parking lot to the Sherrard Point viewpoint. In fact, Danielle graciously drove us in her Toyota Highlander! After a detour brought about by a July 4th parade in Corbett on the Historic Columbia River Highway, we circled around and found a paved road all the way to the Larch Mountain parking lot.

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I made a mistake asking you to remember the rotting tree trunk in yesterday's post--I thought it was the one I had them stand on and around for this photo on the 4th of July. Nevertheless, this is a sweet photo of Meehan, Leland, Lamont, and Danielle.

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Because I was surrounded by caring people who love me, I had no problem getting to the steps. Once there, I listened to everyone's advice and encouragement and just put one foot up on a step, then the other one beside that one and made my way up each set of steps that appeared on the path. I didn't let myself think about walking back down them yet because I knew in my heart that I'd be able to cope with that when the time came. It's that love and caring that got me there. There's young, energetic Meehan already at the top of the steps.

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When I stopped to rest for a few seconds, I decided to take this photo of the trees off the side of the path. I didn't notice that there was no path underneath that railroad tie step until I selected this photo to post here. Glad that I didn't!

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This moment that I stopped and took this photo allowed me to have a look at where I'd be going on the way back to the car in the parking lot. Thankful for that moment. Once again I'm thankful I didn't notice that those steps appear to have empty air beneath them there on the grassy edges at the edge of the path.

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I found a spider at work. Over the few seconds that I took several photos, the spider moved around a bit.

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We're getting higher now, into the clouds which you can see here through the trees.

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My son Leland knows how to distract me from the fact that I'm high up on a mountain top! Let me also tell you that each of us was proud of our layers--it was cool up there in the clouds!

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Meehan, being fearless near the top. We didn't have to climb up that rock--there were well-formed steps with railing and chain link on each side.

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A tiny cluster of pretty flowers called my name when I saw it beside the steps to the viewpoint.

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While the absence of the blue sky day that I had dreamed of made me sad, I still found the clouds slowly drifting through the trees amazing! From the Internet about the trees:

Larch Mountain contains some of the largest old-growth forest strands left in the Columbia River Gorge area, characterized by the presence of many nurse logs. Dominant tree species include pacific silver fir, grand fir, Douglas fir, and western hemlock.

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Lamont at the top of the Sherrard Point viewpoint.

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Here I am, at the top! I made it! Meehan took this photo for me with my iPhone! It felt terrific to be there in the clouds! That's my best California bud in the background, Danielle. She's Meehan's proud Auntie!

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I decided that since I couldn't see distant mountain peaks, I'd take advantage of what I could see--close up--taking photographs carefully over the railing or through the chain link fence.

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I even looked down, too!

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Thank goodness for a zoom lens!

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Another photo that makes me proud to have a zoom lens.

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Look at the lines in those rocks! Amazing sight to see atop this extinct volcano. From the Internet about Larch Mountain:

Larch Mountain is the remnant of an ancient shield volcano, with broad slopes covering tens of square kilometers. It is currently the tallest peak in the Boring Lava Field, a volcanic field active during the Plio-Pleistocene time frame. Active between 1.8 and 1.4 million years ago, the volcano is composed mainly of basalts, although the summit at Sherrard Point is composed mainly of iron-rich andesite. Larch Mountain's basalt is tough to distinguish from the surrounding Columbia River Basalt, although the Columbia River Basalt is slightly lighter in color and less brittle. Sherrard Point is the eroded remains of the original volcanic plug.

Sherrard Point was exposed during the last glacial period, when the majority of the mountain's peak was destroyed by glaciers. The glaciers carved a large cirque into the mountain, forming a large lake. Over time, the lake was filled with sediment, and today the area is now a large meadow.

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Equally amazing, the lines in the remains of this tree.

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I couldn't get enough of these tiny beauties beside the rings in that tree trunk. Wow!

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On the way back to the car, one more photograph of the beautiful forest.

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Found on the path; I wonder what kind of bird used to have this particular feather?

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You can see the descent of the path to the left of these rotting tree trunks.

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Yes! Here are the four people who helped me overcome my visceral fear of heights: Lamont, Leland, Danielle, and Meehan. You for rock! Thank you so much for helping me achieve my goal and make great memories!

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This photo of a happy me with equally happy Danielle and Meehan gives you an idea of the size of the forest, the paths. We used the path on the left, both directions; Leland asked me if I cared if he took the path on the right back to the car. Of course I told him it was fine with me, to be careful. I have my foot on the low retaining wall where I rested back in 2012, steeling myself for the walk back to my Zipcar.

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Love this photo of my sweet sons on each side of me. I am blessed!

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We're almost to the parking lot. I really like the determination to survive for years and years that I see in this tree trunk, curved up amid the towering nearby trees, seeking light. That's what we all need to survive--determination.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Twenty-one days ago, I met a goal! Part One: The Back Story along with some beautiful flowers


In early June, I wrote this on a calendar as a goal-setting part of the On the Move process then going on at work, bound to get those of us who would participate into better shape: Sometime after June 24, walk Larch Mountain trail to viewpoint with Lamont and Leland. After June 24 because that would be the end of On the Move as an organized process, and we were asked to set a long term goal. Little did I know that not only would my two sons accompany me, but also two dear friends visiting from California, Danielle and Meehan. There's a back story to why I picked Larch Mountain and the viewpoint and reaching them as my goal.

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I had a vacation day and a Zipcar July 30, 2012, and planned to drive into the Columbia River Gorge to enjoy myself. As I drove through Troutdale on my way to the Historic Columbia River Highway, I decided to take the road to Larch Mountain to see if I could walk from the parking lot to Sherrard Point, the viewpoint at the end of that short trail. I had seen photos of the hand rail and chain link fence surrounding the area, so I felt safe as relates to my fear of heights. I jumped to the conclusion that seeing those photos meant that the trail also had a railing along it. Nope.

I posted about my efforts on September 13, 2012: Life's path, filled with ups, downs, and curves into the unknown

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According to the Exif info about this photo at my Flickr account, I took it on July 30, 2012, at 3:32 p.m. PDT. Those are facts. Later on I realized it's a fact that the image is a fine metaphor for life. Life is not always a smooth direct path with its end always in sight. And along the way, one must stop and assimilate what has gone before, one must seek the best help and knowledge about how to continue, one must strive no matter the circumstances, and one must never, ever give up. And now and then, one must seek help from those in your life who love you because of who you are.

I stood here, took this photo, and thought about what I was doing on a the narrow path, paved, thankfully, but still situated on the steep side of Larch Mountain, very near the top of the 4,055 foot peak. I knew not where the bottom of those trees on the right actually touched Earth because, in my ever-present fear of heights, I could not get myself to look that direction except in a speedy straight-out glance, much less follow with my eyes a tree trunk downward, out of sight. To do so meant I just might lose control of myself for an all-important instant and go right on over the edge. The fear of heights is nothing if not irrational. My choices, turn around and walk the short distance back to the parking lot or continue down that slight slope and go around that gentle curve that went somewhere I couldn't yet see and continue on towards Sherrard Point at the top of Larch Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge. I took slow, deep breaths, softly talked to myself out loud--after all, I stood there alone so no one would overhear me dealing with my fear--and stepped forward. I didn't know what would happen next, but I had faith in myself to deal with it successfully. Faith based on my ability to face whatever life brought my way. I'd made it this far, hadn't I? Not without help over the years, of course. I could hear everyone who had ever loved me telling me, "You can do this." I kept walking.

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I never followed up on that post with what happened next--I don't remember why. I do remember that when I had walked farther than photographed in this photo that I could see steps made from what looked like railroad ties going I knew not where, nor did I know how many of them existed, but I did know that there were no hand rails alongside the steps.

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I sat down to get my breath on a low retaining wall made of the same ties--you can just see it on the left side of the photo--and tried to convince myself to go on, without success. I then convinced myself that I could make it back to the car in the parking lot without all of a sudden losing control of my body and going of the edge of the hand-rail-less path.

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I took this photo on the way back to the car--remember this rotting tree trunk. The photo's deceptive in that it looks like I'm on an innocent, nearly level path in beautiful woods. All those trees to the left of the path have their roots way down below the level of this path. I have no estimate of how many feet below because I never looked over the edge. I concentrated in walking on the right side of the path.

I visited Vista House, Multnomah Falls and Horsetail Falls in the Gorge, then drove on home, mixed feelings running through my body. It had been a fine drive on the road to Larch Mountain, lots of beautiful trees and flowers sprinkled beside the road. I got out of that Zipcar intent on doing something I'd never even gotten close to doing before. When I had realized that there was no railing along the path, I didn't turn around and go immediately back to the car. I kept walking. So, the mixed feelings brought about by partial success stayed with me for miles and miles and through enjoying those waterfalls. Finally, I believe they steeled me to making an effort again, but next time I would make certain that my two sons went with me, walked alongside me if necessary, so that I could make it to Sherrard Point. Impressed, and surprised, by my solitary effort, they agreed to do just that. More on that in the next post.

Extra treat for you, photos of various flowers I found, either along the rode to Larch Mountain's parking lot or on the path from it to Sherrard Point.

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