forest hideaways

From my sample Social Action Target Map

I barely remember my first backpacking trip, if it qualifies as such.  We call it the Brown’s Lake Adventure.  It should probably be The Brown’s Lake Fiasco.  Suffice to say Dad grew up in the mountains.  He needs mountains.  I understand this.  I grew up in the mountains.  I need mountains.  And certainly, no one needs the latest and greatest outdoor equipment to enjoy the mountains. However.

When we launched off to go to Brown’s Lake in Colorado our young family included me who could walk much of the way and my younger sister who couldn’t.  Our equipment included a tarp, a couple of cloth sleeping bags for my sister and me, canned goods, a hefty fry pan, and a hard side suitcase.  Summertime, there were still plenty of substantial snow drifts to traverse and sleep near.  We never made it to Brown’s Lake.  The frying pan and canned good never made it home.  That frying pan may still be sitting by the trail as a relic testimony advising against such ventures.

I’m quite sure I had a blast.  I did make it to many other lakes and some rivers fishing with Dad.  I think I knew every tree individually on our properties in Colorado.  Dad would take us hiking off some forgotten timber sled path, stop, and tell my sister and me to find our way back.  While my sister’s sense of direction is not her strongest skill, I could do it.  I always feel safest in the woods.  There is that danger of a twisted ankle, my first aid kit, and care to make certain my daughter knows where I am.  But still, the woods have a sense of belonging for me.

I need the woods in my life.  And they have always been in my life.  Then I moved to Asheville and found myself in an apartment surrounded by asphalt.  That was when the nearby North Carolina Arboretum became my sanctuary.  My current condo does have a small patch of woods rescued under the name of wetland.  But it is still not a proper forest.

I have had difficulty finding my place in taking part in the woods in some way beyond simply personal walks and hikes and carrying trash out from others who did not manage to do so.  Hiking clubs didn’t really work out.  I know too much about the hidden sordid history of the Blue Ridge Parkway to get involved there.  A nearby park is delightful but not really woodland.  The University botanical gardens are on the other side of traffic and have a claustrophobic parking lot for this claustrophobic parker.  The Arboretum is a bit pricey and further away for me.

However, I am again regularly seeking the solace of the Arboretum.  I still want to work with others in this, my favorite setting.  I am in the exploratory stage of volunteering at the Arboretum.  There are many different opportunities, some need specialized skills that I have.  So I will see where this leads.