Birthday Backpack to Hannegan Pass

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I try to make it a tradition to backpack on my birthday, to connect with the earth and sky and air and wildlife. We had a lovely campsite up near Hannegan Pass, despite the smoke from the Upper Skagit Complex fires in the North Cascades.

It was incredibly smoky the night we hiked in, but by morning the sky had cleared enough to reveal a lovely view of Ruth Mountain.

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“I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.” -Aldo Leopold

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Down in this basin we saw a black bear snacking on mountain ash berries
and lumbering across fallen logs, living without a care.

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This is truly my favorite way to celebrate another year of my life and recognize the inevitable passage of time. Backpacking teaches me about necessity and what really matters. It helps me rediscover the importance and powerful enormity of nature.

We must learn to embrace this and accept that we cannot escape nature’s life cycles.

Up the Mountain

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I climb. Boots landing soft
on slick rocks. I breathe in mossy air
and gin pours forth from my forehead

I repent for last night, atone
with every crunching step up
hill rising unrelenting

I will be good. Forgive me,
the wine seeping in rivulets
along my wrists.

Let the sugar toxic drain from these
cell walls. Let me be done.
Let the mountain punish.