Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pasayten Wilderness

It has taken me a while to write this post. This has nothing to do with writer's block or difficult content or anything like that. Ironically it's because I've had extra time -- Quinn and Gus have been in the US for the last few weeks and I've been here in Japan by myself. Instead of having extra time for all of the little things I usually put off, though, I've blown off the little things completely and just spent a whole lot of time at work.

Back on July 11th, the three of us flew from Osaka to Seattle to begin some much-needed vacation. It was Gus's first time meeting my parents. The trip involved another first -- Quinn and I leaving Gus with other people so we could have an evening together. Hopefully we'll be able to have a date night next summer too. We also ate a lot of Mexican food while we were in Washington. On the 17th, Quinn and Gus left for the East Coast to spend some time with her family.

What did I do? Back in 1992, I went on a 60-ish-mile backpacking trip in the Pasayten Wilderness with a bunch of guys from church (and some intrepid adult leaders). It was one of those formative adolescent character-building ordeals that people talk about, and I'm confident I didn't appreciate it properly at the time. It also rained the whole week. Anyway, early this year one of the former kids (Keith Dyer) sent out a message on Facebook inviting anybody he could reach to come back and do it again for a 21-year reunion. I debated for a while, and decided to go for it.

The cast of characters:

Keith Dyer, our fearless inviter.

His big brother Duffy Dyer, making good use of a lightweight folding chair. I didn't even tell him to do the Japanese-girl peace sign; he just instinctively knew it would be a good idea.

Stefan Gehring.

Kirk White. The 1992 trip was his idea, so he takes responsibility for all the consequences.

Dan Dickson. He's not really smiling in this picture, because he was sick pretty much the entire time, with no clear idea why. He definitely gets toughness points for keeping up despite it all, though. Don't ask me what toughness points are actually useful for.

Brandon Parker.

...and I almost forgot about me!

We hiked along ridges...

...and in forests...

...and through fields...

...and over talus...

... and occasionally on snow.

The accommodations were pretty nice...

We always had water available...

Although sometimes we didn't find a place to stay until after dark.

Some sections of the trail were better-maintained than others...

...and sometimes we had to improvise.

It's not every day, though, that you feel like you're literally on top of the world.

After the journey was over, of course, we replenished our strength with hamburgers. Last time it was McDonalds (remember, we were 12); this time we stopped at a hole-in-the-wall place (the name was "Good Food") in a small town we drove through on the way home.

They even had outdoor seating!

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