Friday, September 12, 2014

Morning Brew

Coffee: love it. Every day, I brew a really strong cup of joe to savor with my breakfast (for the flavor, seriously). My appreciation of the stuff is close to snob territory. However, if there is no good stuff available, I am not above drinking whatever is around. Instead of drinking the free stuff at the ranch, I buy my own and brew it every morning, double strength. When working the breakfast shift, that means getting up half an hour earlier to make my customary stick-to-your-ribs oatmeal and crude oil coffee before work. Yes, coffee wins over sleep.

So what could be better than the view from the Ranch while sipping a nice, bold brew?

Woke up to snow September 11th, making the hot coffee taste even better.
Doing it in a cabin perched at over 8,000 feet with a view of all of the surrounding mountains.

This past week, a crew of us from the Ranch drove over to Big Sky, and then hiked up to Windy Pass Cabin (2.5 miles) Sunday evening to catch the full moon and then hike back to Mountain Sky the next day (11 miles). One guy hiked from the ranch to the cabin, and then down to Big Sky the next day to drive my car back. The Forest Service has cabins that formerly housed game wardens, trail clearing crews, and fire lookouts but now can be rented on a nightly basis. Awesome.

Monday morning was glorious, as was the Dunkin' Donuts coffee.

We took our time and savored the brilliant sunshine of the morning before packing up our stuff and heading out.

I did this hike a couple of years ago, and the second time was even better. It also helped me realize how I have changed since then: instead of just appreciating the beauty of nature, I now see both the forest and the trees. On the pass, subalpine fir and white pine were the only tree residents. As we dropped down off the ridge into the shelter of the Big Creek drainage, towering Engelmann spruce appeared, followed closely by lodgepole pine. Next, Douglas fir came along, followed by aspen trees, and finally gray alder and cottonwoods hugging the stream a couple miles down the trail. Huckleberries dotted the understory at the beginning, but then slowly faded out, replaced by chokecherries, oregon grapes, and kinnickinnick.

How fascinating.

Monday was just what I needed-a long hike with good company. The conversation ebbed and flowed, and it was a great day to let the legs walk and the mind run. Walking releases stress and clears a cluttered mind. It also leads to a desire to walk more. Rumor is that some people who complete the Appalachian Trail realize at the end that all they want to do is keep walking, so they turn around and head back. An addiction of the good kind. Does rehab for that entail working a cubicle McJob in an area of urban sprawl where everything is just far enough apart that you have to drive and sidewalks are nonexistent? I do not want to know. Gross.

I cannot say the Appalachian Trail is officially a dream of mine seeing as I am only a weekend warrior, but walking in the woods with a pack on your back is not the worst way to spend your time. I am hungry for more.