Thursday, July 29, 2004

One of My Favorite Things
Hiking with my son is one of my favorite activites.  My daughter is not an outdoor girl and an attempted hike with her a month ago finally convinced me that she hates to hike and no matter how hard I try to convince her otherwise, it is just not to be.
I used to hike with my husband before Children came along but now he has feet, knee and hip issues that ruin the fun.  So my hiking partner is my son and I love that he loves to hike with me--his Mom.
Yesterday, we hiked to Lanham Lake off of the Stevens Pass highway.  It is so terrific that around here you can drive 30 minutes to an hour, find a trail and be in the wilderness---just like that.  We picked Lanham Lake because thanks to an old diary kept by my English grandfather, we know where he lived and worked when he first came to America from England at the turn of the century.
I knew my English grandparents in Montana where they eventually settled.  My grandfather died when I was 4 but I remember him and my beloved Grandma died when I was 18 so she was a huge influence on me.  Ironically, she was not an outdoor girl either yet remarkably she left her dismal life in England in 1915 and traveled alone at the age of 24 by ship (probably in steerage), caught a train on the East Coast of Canada by herself and arrived in the wilds of Washington up on Stevens Pass.
I always knew as a child that my Grandparents had lived in Washington at the beginning of their marriage.  My Grandma kept a framed photograph on the wall of her bedroom of their little cabin in the wilderness with snow up to the roof.  It never occurred to me to ask her WHY and HOW  she made that long frightful journey alone from London to the complete wilderness thousands of miles away.  I never realized how wild this country was until we moved here.  So I am reduced to speculation as to WHY and the answer I have come up with is LOVE. 
You see my Grandma, Lily, kept a diary too and she included an entry in 1908 documenting when my Grandfather, Sam, left for America.  My Grandma was best friends with his little Sister, Minnie.  Minnie had followed her older brother to America as well but it took my Grandma 7 years more to make the trip--perhaps to save enough money.  I think she had a big old crush on my Grandpa from the time she was a teen ager and in addition to wanting a better life, she had her sights set on handsome Sam.  The excuse she always used was that she came to cook and be a housekeeper for Sam and his fur trapper, railroad building buddies.  The problem with her excuse is that my Grandpa knew how to cook---his first job was as a cook and my Grandma could NOT even boil water.  Yep, it was LOVE.
She arrived in the wilderness in 1915.  Sam and Lily were married a short time later (SEE?) and their first child, my uncle George, was born a year later.  At this point, the wild country must have grown tiresome to the young family because my Grandpa took a more steady job with the railroad back in settled civilization in Deer Lodge, Montana in 1918.
Back to our hike yesterday!  We climbed a steep trail along Lanham creek until we reached the lake.  Gigantic old growth trees surrounded us and at some points the trail was obliterated by undergrowth.  I had to resort to my Girl Scout skills to find and follow the trail to the great admiration of my son. Very few hikers use this trail and my son (Sam's great-grandson), my Apolo, and I were completely alone in the wilderness.  Throughout the hike I knew my Grandpa had placed traps all along the creek trying to eke out a living in 1911 selling furs.  Very little has changed in nearly 100 years and it was humbling to realize my English city kid Grandpa who had spent years in the dismal Dickens workhouses knew his way around the wilds of these mountains as well as I know my way to the grocery store....and my daughter is an indoor girl just like her great-Grandmother.