We were out hiking yesterday in the Lake Tahoe area. The weather was spectacular for any time of year, much less for early November: ~70ºF (~20ºC), sunny with some high, thin clouds, very gentle breeze. (In many ways, I’d rather have had rain and stayed indoors—because we desperately need the water!—but, since I can’t control the weather, I enjoyed what we got.) The hike, to Five Lakes, was listed in the guidebook as 2.4 miles each way with about 960′ of climbing. I guess they came close: it was more like 3 miles each way and over 1,000′ of climbing, but if you stopped the measurements at the first of the five lakes in Five Lake, perhaps it would have been 2.4 and 960—but it seems like no one stops there. Still, a truly lovely hike.
Part of the Palatte
The color shades along the trail covered a rich, broad palette. Not only where there many shades of green from the trees and bushes, blues from the sky, and even yellows from the changing leaves, but the rock ran the gamut from gray to tan to purple to nearly black to red.
As we neared the crest of the climb, some fellow hikers, on their return leg, said, “You’re almost there!” They, like many, were giving us useful information and providing encouragement.
Almost there. On a beautiful day and a wonderful hike. Almost there.
I wasn’t almost there. I had been there since nearly the beginning of the hike. The lakes, though the nominal destination of our hike, were not the purpose of our hike.
The hike itself was the purpose.
One of the Five Lakes
I first understood this about ten years ago, when backpacking in the Emigrant Wilderness for a week with our Scouts. Each day, the Scouts were in a hurry: they wanted to get there—wherever “there” was. On all the days except the last, “there” was another campsite, different from our other campsites, but still a campsite. We adults, though, weren’t in a hurry: we were there. We were, by the third day, there to be there, not to get there. That realization changed my entire perspective on hiking and backpacking.
The journey is the reward.
See my thoughts on the recent open house, celebrating NASA Ames Research Center’s 75 anniversary, at http://blog.nescornarocketworks.com/nasa-amess-open-house.
Knoxville, Tennessee, December 29, 1929—
Manlius, New York, June 21, 2014
Delivered in Syracuse, New York, June 23, 2014
Dad taught me to respect.
The way Dad treated—and Mom treats—others was and is a lesson in respect. The way Dad treated Mom, my sister, Sue, and me was a lesson in respect. Dad and Mom didn’t try to teach me to respect by telling me: they did it by showing me, by living it every day. The way Dad treated others was all the lesson anyone who could observe and absorb would ever need. Dad taught respect of more than people, too: the way Dad treated machines and tools taught me to respect and to appreciate fine machines, to care for them.
Dad taught me to give.
Dad was not an outdoorsman, despite his father’s love of hiking in the Smoky Mountains in Dad’s home state of Tennessee. Nonetheless, Dad volunteered as a Scout leader, joining Troop 21 on a number of memorable hikes, camping trips, and backpacking trips. More than his making monetary donations, what he did with his time taught me about giving. Mom’s the one who’s know for being active in the community here, but Dad was active in his own community, the antique car hobby, a community that stretched around the country and beyond. Everyone, everywhere in that hobby came to know Stan Marcum as the expert on ’33 Chryslers. Everyone, everywhere in the hobby could ask Dad for help, for advice, for ideas, and he helped, advised, and brainstormed with them, often finding parts through the Internet that no one else could find, frequently scrounging or adapting something from his vast collection of spares and scrap and making what he found or fashioned available to the person looking for that part.
Dad taught me to conserve.
Dad was a consummate barnyard mechanic. He learned his craft at the University of Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station—the research farm—where he worked as a teenager. My Grandpa Sherm’s colleague Mr. Stanley ran that farm and, according to Dad, taught him how to fix just about anything with whatever you had. This was during the War, and on a farm, and, well, you just made do. Dad was a packrat, saving old printers and computers for their wire, assorted metal and plastic rods, and sheet metal, saving worn-out shoes for their leather—just in case he needed a make-shift gasket—saving the rubber o-rings from old oil filters—because you just don’t know when you might need that part or piece. More than this, though, Dad taught me to conserve money—not to be stingy, but to save and invest—and also to care for our planet through conservation.
Dad taught me to decide for myself.
Whenever I had an important decision to make while I was growing up, Dad—and Mom—let me make it myself. Certainly, they cared about the decisions I made, and they had their opinions, and they offered advice—when I sought it. They were not dictatorial, didn’t try to influence me unduly. They let me learn how to make decisions.
Dad taught me to live.
Dad was his own man, doing things his own way, giving life everything he had, getting from life all it had to offer that he wanted. His focus was very sharp, narrow, limited, but within that focus, he grabbed it all, and gave it his all.
Dad taught me to love, simply through the way he loved Mom, Sue, my wife, Barbara, my children, Joshua and Rayden, and me.
Family Bunny Ears