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July 27, 2023 Rachel Blakeslee

A Favorite Hike

By Marc Swanson

You’ll note the title—A Favorite Hike—Not “MY Favorite Hike.”  I have too many treks that I enjoy without deciding which one has the correct attributes to be my one and only favorite.  Why besides would it matter anyhow—it’s a glorious hike.  I enjoy it immensely.  And don’t go expecting me to give you a name or location.  Too much of that going on with social media.  Anyhow, why should that matter?  One man’s memorable trek should not be another man’s check list.  OK, I’ll give you one hint.  The woman I love and I have kissed and embraced there.  Sorry, not much of a hint there since this pretty much describes nearly all the walks I’ve trampled.  All those except the ones when she was pissed off at me.  Many of those too.

That said, this one I like to climb by myself for myself.  I like getting up early in the morning, grabbing my pack stove, coffee, and bagels to toast.  The climb is adequate to shake off the morning cobwebs and stir the blood in the limbs.  The trail rises through old growth forests that the tie hackers missed back in the day.  It continues to rise above the tree line to green meadows that midsummer are filled with stalks of lupine, chocolate lilies, and fireweed.  It smells of fresh—of green—of pushkies in the sun.  If the morning is dry, the bees are often buzzing about gathering their breakfast.

I have a hidden spot on a grassy ledge where I’ll set up my kitchen.  The stove is primed, coffee is made, and bagels toasted complete with cream cheese from Safeway and gooped with spicy jelly made from last year’s high bush.  Slowly I’ll savor the toast and coffee—especially the coffee– while looking over the town I call home.

It’s waking up now—town is. Traffic is picking up, boats cut the bay water, and if the tide is out and the reds are in, fisher folk line the stream banks.  And I sit there and contemplate life and all the good things around me. I am so lucky. I am so fortunate.

It was one time, as I leaned into the morning, that a black bear came up from behind.  I heard the brushes rustling first and before I even turned around I knew it was either A or B—bear or moose.  Neither being particularly good. It was the former—not a particularly big one, but it was 15 feet to my back side.  The black bear was not offended by my presence and seemed particularly interested in my breakfast.  I gave a good yell but it didn’t even flinch.  Crap—the one time–the only  time—I left my bear spray in the truck.

Not wanting to share my breakfast, I took my cup and banged it on the pan. The metallic sound rang through the forest.  That was enough for Mr. Bear—he turned tail and evaporated into the brush.  Unfortunately, so did my coffee that was in the cup and pan.  I silently debated whether the loss was worth it.  I guess when all is said and done it probably was a good choice.

-Marc Swanson

Marc Swanson is a retired educator who did the rural village circuit before ending up in Seward.  He enjoys hiking, being outdoors, teaching and helping folks as a first responder for Bear Creek FD.