Finally ~ Navajo Pass and the Peaks to Which It Leads, July 2020

“Sometimes you need to step outside, get some air and remind yourself of who you are who you want to be.”

Navajo Pass

The world is in a bit of disarray folks.  Perhaps it always has been this bad.  Maybe it just finally figured out how to get all of our attention at the same time with this world wide wandering germ that has so many of us fearfully masked and set apart.  Injustice and unrest and political mayhem abound. It’s messy out there. And while the only living creatures that seem to be thriving are the rich and the ticks it’s easy to lose sight of what matters most. To set aside the novel wonders of really living and stay tucked away at home instead.  Eyes wide shut. Playing it safe, rather than well.

By mid July we have usually tread upon a dirt path at least a few times. But when life as we all knew it came to sudden and sullen stop, the trails got crowded.  Then they got shut down. And then even once time had passed and things began to open up again we hesitated to venture out.  To be honest, I think we were just a tiny bit paralyzed by the chaos and uncertainty of the world swirling around us. And pretty much appalled by this newly masked world of ours and the rampant tick rumors abounding.  Packing up and playing in the mountains just seem like too much work.

Then suddenly, just when I thought our wandering ways may be lost for the summer, there was a new moon. And we’d had enough. So my starry eyed guy pushed us out the door in a last minute effort to breathe deep and capture the night sky in all its glory.

Weekend one nighters are tricky.  You have to hit the trail early and hope all of the other wandering souls out there don’t beat you to your ‘sweet spot’. Unfortunately, after a long and lovely night with good friends, we rose two hours past our estimated time of departure – throwing ourselves and our gear into the Yoda at just about the same time we had hoped to be hitting our destined dirt path.

In our out of practice, last minute, late waking frenzy we forgot our coffee, our Northwest Forest Pass, bug spray and my handy dandy measuring cup.  But, I’m learning that it’s not the things we forget that define us.  It’s the things we remember.

Most of the time we don’t get to choose how the world spins around us.  But, we always get to choose how we live in the midst of its whirling worries.  Up there in the fresh mountain air with a heavenly night sky spilling forth above us and the one I love settled in so contently beside me I was reminded of how easy it is to fall out of sync with who we  are and who we want to be.  And how badly the best parts of me want to rise above the madness. Even in an imperfect world we all have the glorious gift to chose love and goodness and grace.  And to have hope.  A hope for something bigger and better than our small selves. I don’t care to be fearless.  I just want to be brave enough to live my best life, and see the best in others – even when it’s hard.

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.  We may have gotten a late start and headed out a tad bit unprepared. There are masks and germs and bugs that bite, and not everyone is nice. But, if you venture out in search of brilliance – you will almost always find what you are looking for.

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Two hours late with a pocket full of pit-stop Via’s in our pocket, a gas station parking pass on the dash and skeeters nipping at our necks, we took to the Stafford Creek Trail destined for Navajo Pass.
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The path was dusty and rugged with pretty wild flowers strewn along the way.
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At just under four miles the trail Ts and we pulled right towards the Pass.
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Taking in the views of the surrounding hills and enjoying the intermittent bouts of shade.
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And then, before we knew it, we were passing through a meadow carpeted in the wildest of flora, flourishing next to a babbling creek.  Most drop their packs here and spread out in its cool bounty.
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But, some press on.
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Because just as you step beyond this last arduous stretch of path you’ll discover the only thing better than a meandering water rich meadow.
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This view.
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Even with our late start – we found our ‘sweet spot’ up on the pass sitting vacant.
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So, we kicked up our feet and called it home for a bit.
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I munched on my favorite post hike snack.
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And took in the views.
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On both sides.
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While Mikey set up camp.
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Then we meandered back down the path until we could hear a lovely little trickle.
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And made good use of our Platypus GravityWorks, stocking up on cool, crisp mountain water.
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Back at camp I had my eye on a little peak off in the distance.
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While this fine fella is content to just ‘be’…
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I often find myself pining to discover what lies beyond the next long and winding path.
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He teases that I am a ‘Peak Bagger’ but it’s really just this feeling that when a way is tread upon enough to make a path – it’s likely there is something out there worth venturing off to.
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The magical views this way, just off the beaten path, offered a solitude that the pristine but popular pass just couldn’t deliver.
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Up there it was just me and Stuart and a few of his pals.
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I pushed on a bit further to see if there was any more magic to discover.
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And sure enough, there was.  It’s hard to see in this pano, but…
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that’s Rainier sitting just above a lovely layer of clouds off in the distance.
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The views up there were amazing.
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And Stu-ey was good company.
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But, there was something, off back the way I came, pulling at my heart strings.
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So I ran back down to the place I was before.
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Because he’s the only peak I have ever really cared to bag:)
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And, the views I have sitting by his side always remind of where I have been and where I really want to be.
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This is my happiest place.
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Happy hour was spent back at camp.
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Enjoying the warmth of the late afternoon sun and a lovely little breeze that was whispering all around us and keeping the bugs at bay.
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Our last minute dash had us rummaging through un-used meals from summers past. But, they both turned out to be pretty great. And luckily I had brought along some canned organic chicken to add to my Risotto – which substituted as our hand dandy measuring cup:)
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Mikey made preparations to capture the stars.
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And then we headed off to the East to Navajo peak.
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It’s was a climb but twisted remnants of statuesque trees scattered the landscape, keeping it interesting, while views opened up all around us.
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And at the top – you felt like you could see into forever.
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It can get a little crowded on top of the world. So we found a little outcropping that allowed us to make believe it was just us and the setting sun.
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Then we sat back.
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And watched it set:)
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It was wondrous.
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It really was.
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Back at camp there were finishing touches to be had with the magic catcher.  And then…
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The heavens spilled forth in a plethora of glistening lights – reminding us of just how small and grand we all are.  We being all of us.  Every human blessed human that gets to bare witness to the brilliance that lingers here, on this earth ~ even in the darkest hours.
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The morning brought more blue skies and a quick cup of joe.
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And then it was time to break down our happy little abode.
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I was not ready to leave but my heart was full and I had a renewed sense of knowing within me…
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that no matter where the path before us may lead,
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or how barren the scapes surrounding us may seem,
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There is beauty and brilliance around every bend that is always worth the tread.
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Step outside.  Take a deep breath. And find your brilliance.

Miles

Day 1

Standup Trailhead to Navajo Pass – 5.5 miles

Tris’s little jaunt – 4 miles round trip?

Navajo Pass to Navajo Peak – 2 miles round trip

Total – 11.5 miles

Day 2 

Navajo Pass and Out – 5.5 Miles

Total Miles ~ 17

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