Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mt. Hood Rambles: Lolo Pass Road in Late Winter

This blog is not finished but I lose my photos if I don't publish so please come back when I am done.

Meditations on Unhealed wounds with thoughts on healing

How to get there:

1.Turn north onto Lolo Pass Road from Highway 26
2.  Take Barlow Trail Road from Sandy via Marmot or from High 26.  Turn left onto Lolo Pass Road.

Winter Rambles do not go far up Lolo Pass Road due to snow and weather hazards.  Summer Rambles go over forest roads to Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge.

Side roads:
Ramble onto Muddy Fork Road and Forest Road 1828 to explore the upper reaches of the Sandy River.

The sandy river flooded in recent years: 1996, 2006, and 2011.

The water ripped roads from foundations, demolished decks of houses too near the river, tossed trees like toy Lincoln Logs, washing them in a reverse tsunami towards the sea.

As we drive north up Lolo Pass Road from the Barlow Trail, north along the Sandy River we find scenes of this devastation.

Toppled trees, upended roots and other debris line the river bank.

Reflections for those with unhealed wounds from trauma:

Abuse is like a  massive flood from a raging river or a torrential tsunami.  The force of water, which so often nurtures us, becomes destructive as it blasts away at our foundations and carries away our home, our resources for daily life.  We become like the refugee with no home.

Has this happened to you?
Has something ripped away your foundations and set you adrift?
Is the damage to your soul still visible to others?
Is help for repair slow in coming?

Can you sit with the river and tell the river and the trees that you know how they feel?
Find a safe place along the river to sit.
Share your feelings with the river.
Take the river rocks and build a cairn of river rocks mourn your losses.  The word is Scottish and the origin of these constructions is ancient and unknown.  Cairns are often built as markers for tombs.
Bury your wounds in this little rock tomb.  You may come back later to find your tomb has been washed away by another flood.  If that happens, go with the flow as in Taoism.  Perhaps it is time to move on.

Further up the road we spy a snowy mountain behind a clear cut.

A flood or a tsunami is a force of nature.  A clearcut is a man made disaster.  Here the debris of broken branches and tree stumps is strewn across the pasture.

But beyond the spindly second growth timber, snow dusts the wooded ridge above the field.  Soft, silent,  transcendent.… .

Reflections for the Survivor:

Was the disaster in your life due to a force of nature or was it manmade?

Look at the clearcut below.  Was your life clearcut of life.

Notice the dusting of snow on the mountain behind the clearcut.

Is there any beauty in your soul despite the destruction?

The Sandy River is not sandy.  It is "ashy" from volcanic eruptions and Lahar flows from nearby Mt. Hood.  The ash and rocky debris from these flows forms a course subsoil through which water drains quickly.  Ninety inches of rains falls on the West slope of Mount Hood, mostly from October through June.  Summer brings dry skies.  Manzanita, a drought tolerant shrub with rust red branches and leathery grey green leaves,  a  shrub normally found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California 500 miles to the South, grows here.  Ferns fades away on these soils as do native maples, Oregon Grape and Snow Berry..…  During winter rains, a chartreuse carpet of moss covers the floor of this scrubby Hemlock forest…

…conjuring an eerie landscape with mystical mosses and ghostly lichens clinging to the rocks and trees.

A late winter snowfall lingers on the forrest floor.

A trail leads between the trees..testimony to the presence of pioneers from a century or two ago.  Did some wagoneer from the Oregon Trail build a rock ring and light a fire on which to boil water and cook dinner or to keep warm on a freezing fall evening?

Hammered Shield Lichen growing on the tree

Dog Pelt Lichen

Oakmoss Lichen and Methuselah's Beard.

Salal -- shrubby plant with leathery green leaves.

Electrical lines carry power over the mountain passes from the Columbia River south to Los Angeles.

To the engineer they are  "mathematically beautiful."

To the rest of us they mar the mountains dusted with snow.

Reflection for Survivors:

Do you possess beauty not obvious to others?

What is it?

Winter rains bring ephemeral waterfalls.

As we return down the road from whence we came, we pass a snow bank by the side of the road.  The distant mountains in front of us are also dusted with snow.

Close up we can see the trees are Hemlocks, but tall and firm on good soils, bot the short scrubby trees growing on the ancient Lahar.

Along the road the trees form a frame for the distant mountain.

The winter headwaters of the Sandy River, rush by us as a noisy and boisterous creek.

Close up we notice the ned rust red bridge across the Sandy …replacing the bridge destroyed by the flood.

Clouds obscure the snowy summit of Mt. Hood beyond the rust painted bridge.

What animals walked safely behind the rusty red rail above the rushing river water.

Deer?  Dogs along with their human?  Coyotes"

The warmth of the day has melted the tracks along the path so we may not know.

Beside the bridge we peek into the woods -- Hemlock and Poplar and sword fern.  Here the Lahar Flow layers are thin and small so the trees grow tall and the understory is lush with shrubs.

Along the river bank, the shrubs get washed away before they grow while moss clings to the rocks.

Star Moss

Walking along the river we look down.

The Volcanic River Rocks form an earth toned rainbow: Cinder red, ocher yellow, pale Beryl green, grey, brown, blue grey, and mottled grey and white.

Below the waterline rocks shimmer.

Looking up from the river bottom we focus on the whole landscape and not just the details.

Take in the view of the mountain.

Reflections for Survivors:

We can see the landscape in two levels: details or the big picture.  We can look at each colored river rock.  We can look at each moss and lichen.  We can name the trees and shrubs and appreciate each variety.

Can you name the details of your life?  What is beautiful?  What needs work to shine?

What beauty can we find in the "big picture" perspective?

What is more beautiful to you:  The detail or the big picture?

Can each perspective have its own beauty?  

Back to the details -- we notice each moss and each lichen.

Lungwort Lichen

Oakmoss Lichen

A Rhododendron for which nearby Rhododendron, Oregon is named, springs from the strip of shrubs lining the track.  Look for large, spacious blossoms in spring.

On the left is the gate to a house.  On the right is the clearcut.  We return to the settlement that is a mixture of nature and man

Time to sit a while and eat.  We like to eat at the Zig Zag Mountain Store and Cafe lovingly restored from 100 years ago.

The owner of this cafe serves fresh homemade cobblers and pies as well as a delicious Mountain Man Pizza with fresh peppers and lots of spicy meat.  They run out of the pie and cobbler by late afternoon as they prefer to serve only freshly made pie

Sit by the window looking over Bear Creek.  Eat.  Whether you are weary from cold and rain or snow or you are tired, just sitting here will refresh the weary soul.  The tasty fresh food nurtures your body.

A ramble among the foothills and backroad byways of Mt. Hood heals the wounded soul and gives space to express feelings to strong for humans to understand.

But you don't need the cafe.  You can make an inexpensive feast on your own.

Bring a picnic meal, table doth or bath towel or two, and sit in the car or among the boulders along the Sandy River.  I like to buy a baguette of bread from St. Honore bakery in Portland, bring homemade brownies or chocolate chip cookie bars easy to serve from a metal baking pan, homemade ice tea in summer, hot tea in winter, cheese spread which can be obtained cheaply from Grocery Outlet,and garnish these foods with fresh apples in the fall, satsumas in winter, strawberries in spring, or melon in summer.

Reflections of the survivor or anyone in need of self care:

Life can be challenging and dramatic, but we can and must make time for rest -- not watching television or playing on the computer, but a deeper rest found by unplugging from electronics and communing in nature.

What do you do to unplug and recharge your soul?

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