I am alive and well at Holden Village- a Lutheran retreat center located in the Northern Cascade Mountains in Washington State. This is such a beautiful place- and providing me with much needed stimulus. Currently I'm working as a housekeeper and will begin working with the Narnia program this summer (working with kids 0-10 years old). This place sure is different than the last time we were here- but when I arrived it was snowing! Flurries that didn't stick but a moment on the ground- but nevertheless had me thinking that I packed too many tank tops and not enough fleece! The village is full of friendly faces- many of them familiar. I received many hugs and "welcome backs." It's fun to see how this place has changed, and remained the same from when I studied here during J-term of '08.
I work hard to get my housekeeping done in the mornings so I can play in the afternoon. This means I've already accomplished many of my "summer goals." If you know me well you know that I keep a long and ambitious "to do" list for summer adventures. Here are a few:
Summer Goal #1: Go hiking everyday
So far so good! Having the Cascade Mountains in my backyard is quite different than living around the lakes- and I'm enjoying the opportunity to put my new hiking boots to good use. Can't beat the fresh mountain air!
Summer Goal #2: See a black bear in it's natural habitat
I've been able to see two different bears in their climb to the highlands and one on several occasions- sometimes closer than I would like.
Summer Goal #3: Swim in Lake Chelan
I rode down to meet the ferry with a group of folks to unload over 70 boxes of food (everything we consume at Holden comes from the ferry- and it takes 45 minutes to drive it back up to the village). While waiting on the dock for the boat to arrive I couldn't resist jumping in the calm lake. Lake Chelan is over 1,400 feet deep in places, which means the water is always cold! The guys I drove down with prepared for the swim with suits and towels. I did not come prepared and couldn't resist the urge to jump in. I didn't leave myself quite enough time to dry off in the sun as the ferry finally arrived so it was a wet ride back to Holden. Totally worth it!
Summer Goal #4: Go on an overnight hike
My new friend Daniel and I packed up a couple bags for a journey to Hart Lake with hopes of reaching Lyman Lake and Cloudy Pass (both high in the mountains). Our packs weighed 40 pounds and included snowshoes and avalanche shovels. We started at 7:30 at night- both after working long days. No less than 12 minutes into our trek we came upon a black bear who frequents the old drain field. We were on the lower road and consequently looked up to see the bear within feet of us on the overlaying field. We locked eyes, perhaps whispered some expletives, and watched as the equally surprised bear ran the opposite direction of us. Whew!
Our campsite lay beyond an avalanche field- the first I've had the opportunity of climbing over. Snow is a powerful force- and I'm glad the avalanches we saw had fallen earlier in the winter. The smell of pine (or fir?) was pervasive- and other debris from the mountain accompanied the broken branches, snow, and rock face. At 9:30 we'd reached our destination as it started to rain. Daniel hung the bear bag while I scouted a campsite. Soon we were settled in for the night.
The next day we started with PB and J sandwiches and optimism despite awaking to flurries. We began a steeper assent into the mountains and found the trail was hard to find under another avalanche field (this one 3 times the size of the last). We finally found the trail and followed it- moving against the flow of snow melt. Soon we were at the switchbacks and in need of snowshoes. Not long after this we couldn't locate the trail and decided it best to turn back. And though Daniel deemed me as the "Voice of Reason" he overcame his Invincible Young Male Syndrome and determined it would be better to take on Lyman and Cloudy later this summer. After enjoying a warm meal in the sun we hiked back to the village to sauna and rest. Two days, 14 miles and 9 hours of hiking. Not bad for my first day off!
Summer Goal #5: Make time to read
And with that I'm off...