26 June 2011

Finding a Good Guidebook

When K and I know the weather is going to be clear (not necessarily warm), and that we are going to be home over the weekend, we almost always plan to "go out", our phrase for going hiking, generally in the Columbia River Gorge.

As soon as we know that, a few hiking books inevitably find their way onto the coffee table as Kjell ponders and reads and thinks about what would be the perfect hike for our Saturday.

Kjell is a hiking and hiking guidebook aficionado. We have no fewer than ten hiking/backpacking/camping guidebooks, most of which are specifically for the Pacific Northwest.  I used to not understand this passion of his, and thought that finding the perfect hike spontaneously was the true dream.  But, in reality, this never happened.  With Kjell's love of finding great hikes, the world of well-planned, wonderful experiences opened up for me as well.

As Kjell reads and plans a hike, he takes into account things like what flowers and plants will be blooming, what will be in view, whether we will be in sun or shade. He has an uncanny sense of the land that mystifies and impresses me all at the same time. As we hike, he narrates our route, pointing to ridges, benches, washes, boulder fields, berms. When we arrive at views he breathes a sigh and says, "I was waiting for this."

Kjell's love of hiking is one of the many bonuses of being married to him. He has taken me to so many beautiful places I would never have seen otherwise, and has expanded my own love of exploring and adventuring outside.

 We owe many of our great adventures to great guidebooks. I have come to respect them highly.  They provide the opportunity to plan, anticipate, and enjoy.  Spontaneity comes in taking that side trail, or finding a perfect spot for lunch, rather than gambling your day on a hunch.

And there's nothing like the reward of that big beautiful view, and having got there on your own two feet.

With a little help, of course, from our friend, The Guidebook.

Hope adventure finds you soon as well.  Happy Summer!
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