Having a goal is probably more enjoyable than achieving it.

I should be writing for tea bag companies. And of course I may be accused of seeing sour grapes. I intended to end my hike with a dive into this pool near my camp, but by the time I had gone eight miles and about 1,200 feet up and back down, the sun had moved too low and it was all in shade. I have dived off those rocks before, so I can still feature it as it was when I passed it in the morning.

I tired myself out yesterday. The hike I did took me to my physical limits. After I started the steep ascent at the end, I had to stop due to nausea from heat exhaustion several times, and ended up just walking extremely slowly for a lot of it.

Anyway, within less than a hundred feet from the goal, another of many waterfalls here, I was startled by a deep, snarling bark just behind me. A Pit Bull mix, hackles raised, off leash, no owner in sight. I froze and turned to stare at it, waiting, as it approached, still growing and puffing itself up to look bigger. The owner showed up, and she was the epitome of a type I see a lot in Eugene—faux soft and gentle, plain, but clearly vain about what assets she did have, e.g. long wavy hair and trim figure. All their malevolence comes out in their dogs.

She quickly said sorry, and explained she’d dropped her dog’s leash (off a cliff, presumably) and that was why it was not on her dog, which was ignoring her and advancing toward me, still growling. I quietly told her that had she had it on the dog, which clearly did not listen to her, the leash would not have been lost, would it? She instantly exclaimed “I don’t know what you want me to do, I have tried to apologize!” Impressed at how quickly she had positioned herself as the victim, I kept provokingly calm and said the apology didn’t mean much, since her dog was clearly her avatar, as usually was the case–nice people have nice dogs. At that she announced that she was turning back that instant, because she was not ‘trying to share a space with someone like you.’ She added that she hoped I would enjoy it. Just a few calm sentences provoked such a meltdown, but I knew it would. The rules are that I instantly accept her lame excuse and pretend like she does that we are nice, and only nice.

Of course I reasonably said that it was was foolish to turn back this close, there was no need to panic, I would be happy to wait there while she went ahead, as I was tired anyway and could use the rest. No, she preferred this new course, and seemed quite satisfied with it, thus confirming that she was a real piece of work, under all that clean and mild and outdoorsy veneer.

So I thoroughly enjoyed the waterfall by myself. I sat behind it, in a niche in the cliff and watched the curtain of water hit the rocks.  Then I stood under a little side dribble of cold water, which helped a lot, and headed back.

By the time I was in the last mile or so, I was actually stumbling over rocks in the trail, from fatigue. I saw a nice pool with slabs of basalt around it, still in the sun, doffed shoes and socks, and plunged in. After the shock subsided a little, I dunked again, then got out and basked on the rocks, letting my hair dry a bit. Warm smooth rock under my back and legs and cool, creek-freshened air with the rich scent of conifer pitch and the rushing gurgle of the very cold, aquamarine water. Sensual paradise.

Two days and nights with zero cell service or wifi is an interesting thing these days. WW III could have started and none of us here would have known. I saw an emaciated, older French couple on the trail, hiking in white loafers, no socks. The craven victim had announced she was not from around here, and the retired Australian couple I met when I arrived were here for the World Track and Field Championships that are happening now in Eugene. This spot must be on the list going around. This is what we have to offer the world, some trails in raw remnants of nature, between the logged over sections. Our built environment is ugly as sin, and in fact is one.

I think that the vaunted ‘culture’ of track (NOT field, not really, gross and redolent of violence) that Eugene tries to suppose it embodies is a direct reflection of this weird fear of aggression. Just skinny runners, run, run run! Not hurting a soul here, never would dream of it (but watch those elbows)! What could cause such a pathological fear of aggression? A massive, suppressed, untapped well of it in your viciously repressed little soul? I’m humming the theme song from “Chariots of Fire” in my head now. Some idea that elite (which these people want to be, in spite of all the frothing about ‘equity’) means nothing so crude as self-defense. Who put that in people’s heads? Elite once meant chivalrous knights bristling with weaponry and topped with plumes and heraldry and ladies’ favors.

On the last bit of trail, there there were showy wildflowers, and many butterflies. One huge black and yellow swallowtail alighted on a purple blossom and slurped, trembling so hard it payed no attention to me. It moved onto another and greedily shook with its beautiful wings spread out. A photograph does not do justice to the desperate appetite it displayed toward that flower.

Well, and then I got back into town, and went to a bakery and restaurant that was clearly patronized through the same grapevine, by the World Championship Track & Field folks. As I left, I saw a sign in their window. I shall display it here.


“One who knows how to enjoy life does not need riches.” ~Yogi Tea bag


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