Mar 31

I just ordered this book on Kindle, a revised updated (but NOT abridged) and illustrated version of Pilgrim’s Progress. This will be my reading on the trail. It was inspired by a book that I am about half done with, Praying, by JI Packer. Dr. Packer mentions that he reads through Pilgrim’s Progress every year, and has done so for many years. Well, it will be good reading for the trail. The book I intend to read on the train down to San Diego is by John Frame…

This is a small soft cover book, which I hope to have completed before I arrive in San Diego to meet Tom Braithwaite. On my iPad I will also be reading another much larger book by John Frame, recommended by Bob Case…

So, I have my reading cut out. I find that after a hard day of hiking, my reading brain doesn’t work so well, but I’m hoping that I can get a few more books completed while on the trail.
On the Pilgrim’s Progress theme, a song that we sing in church will be one of my themes, Who would true valor see…

Who would true valor see, let him come hither;
One here will constant be, come wind, come weather;
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
his first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.

Who so beset him round with dismal stories,
Do but themselves confound his strength the more is.
No lion can him fight, he’ll with a giant fight,
but he will have a right to be a pilgrim.

Hobgoblin nor foul fiend can daunt his spirit;
He knows he at the end shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away; he’ll fear not what men say;
he’ll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.

So, as I get ready to head out, many thoughts whirl through my head. I love hiking, but I love my wife even more, and I will be constantly concerned about her welfare and safety with me gone. Thankfully, we have supportive friends, and I won’t be totally ex communicato, so that matters should work out well. Naturally, Betsy is worried about my safety, which I can grasp. I will try to minimize the risks of this venture, and play it as safe as possible. Assuredly, I am confident of the Lord watching over my every step as I proceed. I welcome your prayers and support.

I have mentioned previously that my venture is also a hike-a-thon, raising funds for Huguenot Heritage. Please consider supporting that ministry. The website hike-a-thon donation function is not quite functional as of yet, but you will be able to help support a very important and needy cause through my hike. In a week or two, get online to HuguenotHeritage.com and commit to a penny, a nickel, a dime, a quarter or a dollar per mile. Since it is 2650 miles on the trail, for a penny, you will be out at most $26.50. Because the donation is through Huguenot Heritage and not me, I will not know who or what amount was pledged, so I will thank you in advance for your consideration of this.

But there remain typical and expected anxieties in my mind this evening as I prepare to leave. I have done what I could to prepare for this with many practice hikes. I’ve sustained foot blisters, joint pain, and exhaustion pushing myself. There were the countless hours spent researching the trail online, discovering who were the reliable sources for information, and processing that information. What do you wear? What goes in the pack? Where do you resupply? What do you eat? What’s the best equipment? How do you find your way on the trail? How do you best stay out of trouble? What is it going to cost? How will I stay in contact with Betsy? I’ve spent countless hours drawing up, drafting, guess-timating time that I will need to get from point to point, and estimating the amount of food needed. There was a week or two packing resupply boxes for Betsy to ship out. I’ve researched appropriate apps for my iPhone and will be using the latest, greatest technologies. I’ve done many compromises and expenditures for lighter or more convenient equipment that I would be using. Last night, I even unpacked my pack and slept out on my back porch, just to get a feel as to what it is like to be backpacking again since my last trip was last August/September. It also gave me a better feel as to how I should go about packing my pack, supposing I get hit with setting up my camp during a downpour. It may seem strange to many but my biggest preparation has been mental, preparing for this venture. I wished to have various Psalms and song memorized or loaded on my iPhone for use on the trail.

People wonder what I hope to get out of this venture. Why am I doing it? I can think of several things…
1. To fulfill a long-standing dream to hike the PCT
2. To raise funds and increase awareness for Huguenot Heritage
3. To allow me to see multiple unfolding landscapes that reveal God’s handiwork and worship Him in that setting.
4. To have a significant time to meditate, pray and praise the Lord while on the trail.
5. To be a witness to our Lord Jesus Christ and His goodness while encountering others on the trail.
6. To prepare for much easier adventures with Betsy.
Perhaps that is sufficient reason, though I’m sure the list could go on much longer.

I welcome your prayer. I welcome your interactions. E-mail me. Post a note on FaceBook. I may not respond but I will read and appreciate all of your input. Make a donation to Huguenot Heritage. Deus Vobiscum!



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Mar 25

I had written previously about how much I appreciate my old music tradition in the Apostolic Christian Church, where fairly complex music was sung in church and people were expected to sing in 4-part harmony. I also spoke about how I still love the Zion’s Harp hymnal that we used. I was then a touch critical about how my current Presbyterian church sometimes did not present the best quality of music possible in a church setting. In this piece, I would now like to take an opposing view. During our time at Faith Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, we have been blessed with much wonderful music, to which I will address.

Before I specifically address the music found at FPC, I would like to discuss the conduct of the service itself, since it offers the appropriate setting for the type of music heard in church. FPC offers what might in England be called a high church service. It is a formal service, and the conduct of the service is aimed for worship and away from being a form of entertainment. Thus, the choir is unseen and behind, as they are not performing for you but for God. The only person in front is the pastor, who represents God speaking to us. The pastor will lead the entirety of the worship. All children are expected to be in the worship service and be behaved. There is no children’s service, as adult worship is supposed to be a model for your children. There might be lite beer, but there is no Worship Lite. The congregation does not select the hymns to be sung because they are selected by the pastor to fit the theme of the sermon. There is either a piano or organ which leads the singing, and nobody serves as the conductor/song leader in front of the congregation. There is no projector for the tunes, there is no worship team (the pastor is the worship director), and no dancing girls and guys leading the song worship, as there is no drama. When church becomes entertainment, it ceases to be church. The pastor wears a robe, the order of the service is printed, prayers (outside of congregational petitions) are said on kneelers. We do raise our hands (as in the photo above) whenever the offering hymn is sung or when the tune describes the trinity or the majesty of God, such as in the last verse of Lo He Comes in Clouds Descending. There is nothing informal about the service from start to finish. In many settings, such conduct of service would be dry and boring. For FPC, worship is anything but boring, and the church has remained a packed, growing community of the faithful. It has been particularly effective in our community which is ultra-liberal, and where people are craving for authenticity. FPC provides that authenticity. At this point, I would never return to a contemporary style service. I get more worship in a formal Catholic church service than in most of the pop contemporary services, even when they are PCA churches. I don’t think many contemporary church-goers view a worship service as a worship service. Church worship should promote a deeply reverent view of God. Enough! I will return now specifically to music.

FPC does have a choir which has been conducted under the excellent direction of Florence Rayburn, wife of the pastor. When we first started attending FPC, we became particularly aware that Florence held the choir to a very high standard. Practices were rigorous, and nothing shoddy was allowed to come across during a worship service. Often pieces were sung in Latin, German or French, and a translation would be provided in the order of service. Many pieces by classical composers were presented to the congregation, all with good effect. More recently, a number of the children of the congregation have become expert in the violin, flute, trumpet and other instruments, and have been able to accompany the choir or congregational singing.

At times, music at church would go beyond this, and a full classical piece of work would be presented. There were friends of the congregation from other PCA churches around who sung professionally in the opera and at major public performances in Seattle. There were a number of members of our congregation that are semi-professional singers, and they would provide the solo parts of the Messiah, various Bach works, etcetera. As an example, this Easter, a Saturday performance of Faure’s Requiem will be offered. Unfortunately, I will be on the PCT at that time. One time recently, we even had a Tacoma area choral group accompanied by FPC instrumental musicians perform Bach’s St. John Passion. Music at FPC definitely has its outstanding features, which was only rarely found in my past ACC denomination.

When we first started attending FPC, many of the hymns were completely unfamiliar to us. They did not sing many of the gospel songs that are so familiar in Baptist/Anabaptist church circles, or which we sang in the ACC. Pastor Rayburn was very sensitive to the words of a hymn, which had to not only be doctrinally correct but also to have poetic excellence. We sing every printed verse of the tune, to catch the full impact of the hymn writer for the hymn. Many times, Dr. Rayburn would discuss the hymn writer and tell stories about them. As an example, I can no longer think of the hymn “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” without including “by Ray Palmer”. Some tunes were ancient. To those, I identify the Doxology and Gloria Patri. Also included and loved is “Oh Light that Knew No Dawn”, a wonderful hymn written by the Cappadocian father Gregory Nazianzus, and one of the oldest existing hymns of the Christian tradition. There is also “Hallelujah Praise Jehovah” taken from a Gregorian Chant by Lowel Mason, and “Art Thou Weary, Art Thou Languid” translated from St. Stephen. I dare not forget “Hail Gladdening Light”, usually sung in the evening service, and probably the oldest existent hymn. It is sung as a chant. The music is included below.
In the early Reformed tradition, we have
1) The Old 100th (All People who on Earth do Dwell) by Louis Bourgeois
2) I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art by John Calvin
3) God Shall Arise and By His Might, a Huguenot versification of Psalm 68
4) All Praise to God Who Reigns Above (Johann Schütz)
5) The Sands of Time are Sinking (Rutherford/Anna Cousins)
Many of the hymns of Watts/Cowper (pronounced like Cooper!), Newton and Wesley which were not sung in our ACC tradition, include
1) Give to Our God Immortal Praise (Watts)
2) God Moves in a Mysterious Way (Cowper)
3) Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending (Wesley, best with the tune Helmsley, music below)
4) Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder (John Newton)
5) Sometimes a Light Surprises (Cowper).
6) Who Would True Valor See (John Bunyan, music below)
I am not sure why these absolutely wonderful hymns did not make it into ACC hymns, as they would not be doctrinally offensive.
Then there are the early American composers, before the gospel song movement took over…
1) Lord With Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee, a wonderful hymn written by the author of the National Anthem, Francis Scott Key
2) Great God of Wonders (Samuel Davies, pronounced Day-vis, like Davis!)
The 19th-century British hymn writers also stand out, especially Andrew Bonar…
1) For All the Saints (WW How)
2) Hear, O My Lord (Bonar)
3) Not What My Hands Have Done (Bonar)
4) I Lay My Sins on Jesus (Bonar)
5) When the Weary Seeking Rest (Bonar/Mendelssohn)
6) A Few More Years Shall Roll (Bonar)
7) Jesus I My Cross Have Taken (Henry Lyte)
8) Weary of Earth (Samuel Stone, music below)
9) O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus (Trevor Francis)
10) Father I Know that All My Life (Anna Waring)
A smattering of others include versifications of the Psalms, some already mentioned above, and include “Unto the Hills Around (Ps 121) and “God Be Merciful to Me” (Ps 51). Just a few other new (to me) hymns that I particularly like include
1) God My King Thy Might Confessing
2) Whate’er My God Ordains is Right
3) Come Ye Disconsolate
I’ve omitted many hymns that Betsy and I have learned since coming to FPC. These are hymns that are on our minds all the time. We cherish them as wonderful statements of our faith in Christ. It is a treasure that we are most grateful of Rev. Rayburn to have provided to us.

I still have a few persistent dislikes with the music at FPC, which reflects what might be happening at many PCA churches in our denomination. Keith Getty tunes have become popular. The words are solid, but often not as well written as many of the older hymns. Newton or Cowper or Gerhardt might even go so far as to identify the Getty songs as nothing but doggerel. What annoys me the most are the tunes themselves. They lack creativity. Once you’ve heard one Getty tune, you can predict all the others. If you were to identify any tune, it could be broken down into certain phrases. Amazing Grace would be A-B-C-A’, or the traditional Rock of Ages A-B-A’-A’-A-B’. With the Getty tunes, the phrases are simple and highly repetitive, almost like singing a mantra. One tune for instance, “By Faith” would be phrased as A-B-A’-A. (Giant Yawn!) They just don’t make for good music. Then, there is the New City tune (A-B-A-A-B’-A’) (Super Yawn!) to Rock of Ages, where the tune is catchy but highly repetitive and has absolutely no correlation with the words. JS Bach would turn over in his grave if he heard and understood the New City Rock of Ages tune. My criticisms are light, my praise is heavy for Presbyterian music.

I also have some complaints about what the PCA has done to the Trinity Hymnal. Why in the world would they drop “Weary of Earth”? Why are they adding popular tunes that truly are not fit for congregational singing? Why are they including newer songs, devoid of theological content, just because they are popular? The Trinity Hymnal from 1961 truly is a great hymnal, with well-translated hymns, versifications that excel, and a variety of hymns that cover every circumstance in life. Most of the newer “improvements” have only diminished the value of the hymnal. Hopefully, the PCA does not ultimately lose its tradition for quality church music.

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Mar 21

I’ve been busy. Those who follow my posts will note that I have tried to read a few more of my vast stack of unread books. You will see several more book reviews before I begin my quest. I have tried out different gear. I have trained too hard, and developed blisters on my feet which have laid me up. I move much faster in training than I would on the trail, and don’t stop to tend to sore spots on my feet. This something I don’t do when actually backpacking, and so I know why I don’t experience blisters when seriously on the trail. Happily, I have learned that I also recover quite quickly from bad blisters, so I know that I won’t ever be thrown off the trail just because of a sore or two on my feet.

New Equipment

I have had a few equipment changes that are not entirely of my own personal choice. I decided to carry a personal locator beacon (PLB), and for me, it is the Garmin InReach device. I chose this device since it also carries maps of the trail, and can serve to provide as a back-up in case my iPhone goes on the blink. I will not be carrying paper maps in order to keep my weight down. With the choice of a PLB, I desperately needed something to remove in order to keep down my weight. I decided to remove my camera, at least for the desert segment of the trail. This took off about 2 lb and added 1 lb, so I’m getting a bit closer to my ideal pack weight. I will still take photos, but just use my iPhone for that. I might be using a larger (26800 mAh) backup battery.

I have several shoulder strap pockets that I’ve tried out, and I don’t like either one of them. The iPhone does not go in and out easily, and it is hard to store other items in the strap pocket. Thus, I have ordered and will try out a fanny pack that many thru-hikers use, called the ThruPack Summit Bum. It provides not only a most convenient place to store my iPhone, but also trail snacks, insect lotion, and sunscreen cream, the things you wish to access on the trail without having to remove your pack. It should arrive in the mail soon, and so I’ll give it a try when it arrives.

I am experimenting with various sorts of water containers. Because I like to use a hydration bladder, I also need a means of bringing extra water in the desert sections. I simple solution would be to have several 1.5 liter SmartWater bottles. I am using some new collapsable canteens, much lighter than the Nalgene canteens of yesteryear, yet very versatile. I would like to make as few of changes as possible at this time, so I probably won’t switch out anything else until I’m actually on the trail and find something that doesn’t fit my fancy.

Huguenot Heritage

One raison d’être for this hike is to raise funds for Huguenot Heritage. Huguenot Heritage is the ministry of Francis Foucachon, a French-born person, trained as a French chef, later becoming an ordained minister in the Reformed faith, now functioning as a missionary to the French-speaking people of the world. Dr. Foucachon is partnering with Third Millenium Ministries in translating materials for theological education into the French language. This stuff is desperately needed. Francis tells me of people coming to Christ in Africa through the ministry of Benny Hinn, and having no clue as to authentic Christianity. With Third Mill materials, natives in the field can receive a full seminary type education in the faith without ever having to leave their country or their community. It is just a super idea that is worthy of all of our support. Please prayerfully consider signing up for my hike-a-thon to support Huguenot Heritage. Hit the link above to discover more about HH and learn what they are doing among the French-speaking people of the world. Pennies per mile is all that I ask, and if you commit to only 1 cent per mile, you’ll only be out of $26.50 if I survive all 2650 miles of the trail. Of course, I encourage you to donate more than 1¢, but any amount matters. You are not supporting me, as I am fully supporting myself; not a cent of your donation will come to me. Your money will be used entirely for building God’s kingdom. So, just do it! They should soon have the ability to make pledges on their website.

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Mar 05
Daniel, Francis, Donna, and David Foucachon, then Cooper White, Cooper Salmon

Thirty more days until I start hiking the PCT. The anxiety is building. Thoughts are raging about my preparedness and plans. There are several things that are most important now.

Betsy

I will be leaving Betsy for 5-6 months. She is my top priority in life and the person that I have learned to love more than any other human in the world. My thoughts are ever toward her and her welfare while I am gone. She will be babysitting our granddaughter Rachel during the months of May, June, and July and so will be busy. But she is worried about my welfare, and I need to assure her that I will always play it safe. It is possible that I may drop in at home once or twice in the middle of my hike, but that remains something that I can’t speak about at this time. We’ve gone over many details of the economics of the household since I’ve managed our finances and other concerns entirely up to this time. I think that she is feeling comfortable with matters.

Heavy snow year

I’ve followed online discussions (mostly on Facebook) about how to deal with the heavy snow year. It is quite possible that I will be doing what is called a flip-flop, where one jumps ahead on the trail, and then comes back later to complete that section. If I flip-flopped, I would probably jump from Walker Pass to Donner Pass, complete the hike, and then return to Walker Pass to complete the high Sierra.

Finishing other projects

There are garden and yard projects that need to be completed, friends and family to touch base with, and completion of my autobiography. I have published on this blog site the 1st version of my autobiography. I’ve heard back from several friends that I perhaps might have over-stated some things, such as my criticism of the south without discussing that in general, Betsy and I had a very nice time in Biloxi, all other things being considered. I will probably add in a brief description of my PCT hike, and submit the autobiography to the printers just after our 40th wedding anniversary on 20OCT2019. I await other critical comments on the book but just haven’t heard back from anybody regarding corrections that they would like me to make regarding their own personal details. There will be time for that if you e-mail me before September.

Huguenot Heritage

The photo above is that of Francis and Donna Foucachon, whose ministry is that of Huguenot Heritage, partnered with 3 Millennium Ministries in providing theological educational materials to the French-speaking peoples of the world. My heart goes out to those in Africa and elsewhere who speak the French language, yet have almost no instructional materials in solid Christian theological doctrine and truths. This last Sunday and yesterday I spent back in Moscow, Idaho filming promotional materials for Huguenot Heritage. Several of the Foucachon children run a video/publishing concern in Moscow, Idaho called Roman Roads Media, and they were able to do filming with me outside (in the snow) as well as inside. We intend to do a hike-a-thon style fund-raiser for my PCT hike, asking people to commit to so many cents or dollars per mile to the Huguenot Heritage effort. 100% of all funds will be used carefully to fund the translation of educational materials used by 3rd Millennium. I beg all readers to consider making a donation. Since the trail is at a maximum of 2650 miles and if you donate a penny a mile, the most you will be out will be $26.50. I sincerely hope that you could do 10¢ or even a dollar or more per mile. It will be tax deductible, and serves greatly in promoting God’s kingdom among the French. There will be more information forthcoming regarding this effort on this web site, on the Huguenot Heritage webpage, and on my Facebook page.

It was a total delight to spend time with the Foucachon family and their friends from Roman Roads Media. They are the most wonderful hospitable people. Francis grew up in France, and was trained as a chef. He then went into the ministry, being ordained in the PCA church (I think). He lives in Moscow, Idaho, and used to run a totally first class French restaurant in town, until his Huguenot Heritage ministry needed his full-time attention. I am generally indifferent to French cooking, but I’ve now had a number of meals cooked by Francis, and without hesitation note that they among the best meals I’ve ever had in my life. He is a phenomenal cook. Sunday evening, he cooked a tenderloin steak that is probably the best steak I have ever had ever, bar none. On Monday, he cooked up some lobster bisque and vegetable soup for lunch that was to die for. I really didn’t grasp that food could taste so good. Sunday evening, we were able to share a superb bottle of cognac, fine cigars (that I brought), and fellowship. In so many ways, Francis and I are identical in our theology. We love the Reformed faith, we love the old paths, we love vanTil, we love a worship service that is deeply formal and reverent, etc. It was like discovering a truly kindred spirit. I will definitely be visiting him (and hopefully, some day, his church, Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho) again.

vegetable soup and lobster bisque

A very hospitable table that can be expanded much further. This was lunch! with a wonderful wine, salad, a melted cheese item, and the soups above.

There was about 6 inches of snow in the Moscow, Idaho area. The drive was snowy all the way from Tiger Mountain (in Western Washington) to Moscow, Idaho. The roads were excellent. Nearing their home in Moscow, Idaho, I was using Google Maps, which took me down a side road that ended up unplowed and impassable. After a little difficulty turning around, I make their home in just over 5 hours.

I will be using the Huguenot Heritage and Roman Roads Media people to do my hiking updates. I’ll send them the photos and text, and they will place them into a blog page that will illustrate my hike. Thus, it will be important that you connect with the Huguenot Heritage website.

Preparation for the Hike

I still need to continue exercises to get me in shape. I’d like to do one overnight backpack trip, even if it is only a few miles in distance, just to get used to packing and unpacking the tent, sleeping bag, and camping stuff. I will continue my day hikes, now always with my ULA backpack containing in it everything that I will be needing for my hike. Other days, I’ll go with Betsy to the YMCA and work out on the stair stepper and weights. I feel ready at this time, but wish to continue training exercises up to the time of my departure.

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Feb 18

18FEB2019

Only 45 days to go to start the trail, and 42 days to depart Puyallup. Am I getting the heebie-jeebies? Yup! Will I still do it? Yup! Am I totally physically and psychologically prepared? Nope!

Snow

My greatest concern at this time is the snow levels in the mountains. Though there is a large snowpack, the water content is low, so I might be okay with a straight thru-hike. If I get close to Kennedy Meadows (the start of the high Sierra) and I hear that the snowpack is still formidable, I might do a flip-flop and jump ahead to Soda Springs, finish the hike, and then come back to complete the high Sierra after everything else has been hiked. This is not unusual to be done, though I’d prefer to not have to do this. For Betsy’s peace of mind, I wish to exercise the greatest prudence and safety possible for the hike.

Exercise

The heavy snow in early February has prevented comfortable outside exercising. My training walks have been put on hold. In order to maintain some sense of bodily activity, I’ve been going with Betsy to the YMCA and pumping iron as well as using the elliptical machine, which seems to best simulate walking with pack. Hopefully, I can get back out on the trails soon.

Preparation

I have all of my resupply boxes taken care of, and extra supplies at home organized. My pack is packed, and is still a little heavy, but am not going to fuss too much about it. The weight will come down during the first few weeks of the hike. I’ll only keep several days worth of food on me during the first few weeks, but may need 5-6 liters of water at a time on the trail. I’ve also thought about the things that I would need to keep my mind okay while hiking. I don’t like hiking with earphones, but will have adequate music and stuff to listen to on my iPhone. To keep weight down, I will not be carrying any books, including a Bible, but will have books and Bible on my iPhone. That is also true of maps, which will all be on my iPhone. I also like to go over hymns, and so I’ve compiled my top list of hymns and hiking songs, put them in pdf format, and these can be found at the bottom of this page.

Fund Raising

I wish to raise funds for Huguenot Heritage. This ministry translates Reformed theology materials into the French language. My friend Francis Foucachon runs that ministry, and lives in Moscow, Idaho. We will be instituting a campaign that suggests donations per mile per Halfmile Maps. Since the maximum mileage is 2650 miles, a penny a mile will put you out a grand total of $26.50, and 10¢/mile will put you out $265.00. Please think seriously about supporting this effort. I will be going back to Moscow, ID next week to work out a campaign plan with Francis.

Transportation to the Trailhead

I’ve now purchased my train tickets and will be heading out on 01APR. As mentioned above, I’ll stay overnight at a hostel in San Luis Obispo and arrive in Oceanside, CA in the early afternoon of 03APR. On Thursday AM at the crack of dawn, my friend Tom Braithwaite will be dumping me off at the trailhead. After that, I’m on my own.

Other Tasks

Since Betsy will be without me for a while, I’m trying to get the house completely in order. Besides yard work, I’ve had a petty nightmare trying to get my stereo system working again. We have a Synology server with 30TB that takes holds all of our movies, music, and other information, as well as our security system and this blog site. It connects to a Mac Mini which in turn connects to a Denon receiver which connects to a large LG display. The Mac Mini was over 8 years old, and I could no longer upgrade the OS, so decided to upgrade the Mac Mini. The system will no longer connect properly. Many other people have had this problem, and I’ve tried a multiplicity of solutions to remedy it. I have a few other ideas in mind but ultimately may have to call in a “professional” to resolve the matter. Also, I am very near to the completion of my Memoirs. I am trying hard to be sensitive when I need to speak honestly and frankly about others. I am working on tailoring it to read easily and smoothly, while being grammatically correct. The easy part was writing the book as it took me about a week. The hard part is in doing all of the corrections and editing and putting it into a format which could be submitted to a printer.

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Jan 26

Private Reflections on a Past Event that occurred 40 years ago

I am in the process of writing my memoirs, and most of the chronicle has been quite easy to accomplish. Only one area has been very difficult for me to complete, and much of the issue relates to private thoughts that I had back then and now have, reflecting on a certain event and the analysis thereof. It relates to the issue of my friendship and contact with two girls from Roanoke, Illinois, as described in the Memoirs 23JAN19 edition, as follows…

It was at this time, in the second and third years of college (I was able to get my chemistry degree in 3 years), that the issue of girls first arose. I really was not interested in girls. True, while working at Schlegel Typesetting, there was a young girl working there, Faith, who was most attractive and charming. I was so shy around girls that I would do nothing but sweat and gasp in a tortuous fashion whenever she would walk by, and my co-workers would make nasty fun of that. I couldn’t help it. I just didn’t know how to conduct myself around girls. I went to an all-boys high school, and church kept the boys and girls separated and so there were never serious encounters with me and the opposite sex. Occasionally, a girl at church would look google-eyed at me, and I’d return the google-eye, but nothing would come of that either for her or me. All of that changed. Two girls from Roanoke, Illinois, Amy Leman and Deb Hodel, came out to live in Portland. I’m not sure as to the motive for their move. They were both ER nurses who got jobs at Providence Hospital in Portland, and attended the ACCA Holgate church. Going to the sister denomination, I didn’t meet them at first, but became acquainted with them because they loved  the outdoors and were very active girls. The relation started slowly at first.  One of our very first encounters was when they invited me to an event at Washington Park where the Portland opera was putting on an abridged version of the Magic Flute.  We did multiple rafting trips down the Clackamas River with Jeff Groom from the ACCA Holgate church. They were a joy to be around. Soon, we were backpacking together, hiking into the Bull of the Woods wilderness for several nights, and then they had me try to lead them up the Cooper Spur route on Mt. Hood. We went camping together in Mount Rainier National Park. Dad celebrated my graduation with the family at a nice Chinese restaurant downtown, and Amy also attended this more intimate get-together. From Amy’s behavior, she seemed to be very interested in me, as I was in her. Other people made comments to me on Amy’s apparent interest in me. In the ACC tradition (and I mistakenly assumed that Amy was a “good AC” girl) one did not date, but got to know each other through social events, so I did not ask her out. Actually, that’s still a great idea, even outside of the AC church. Late in the summer of 1978, soon before I was to start medical school, Amy and Deb invited me to go with them on a week-long road trip up to Banff in Canada,  and would make it back just before medical school began. I agreed. Everything went well for a few days, with much laughing and fun. We went swimming in one of the hot springs on the way to Banff. We stayed at the Lodge in Banff, and hiked around Lake Louise. Things were as good as could be. But then, about the third night in, I ended up in the tent with Amy, with Deb sleeping outside cowboy style. I chatted a bit with Amy, and then wished to discuss our relationship more seriously, whether she thought that perhaps marriage would eventually be a possibility, emphasizing that it was not a proposal but a clarification of what seemed to me to be an increasingly friendly relationship. Dead silence. The next morning, it was like a funeral had occurred.  I was confused and distraught because I could not understand Amy’s reaction. It wasn’t a yes, no, or maybe response. It was silence, which made it impossible for me to resolve matters in my mind. On this day, we had plans for an overnight backpack trip around the back side of Mt. Robson, but the two girls backed out at the last moment. I went ahead on the backpack trip, and the girls picked me up on return a day later, still with stony silence and no explanation. Deb drove and would occasionally chat, while Amy remained transfixed in a romance novel about priestly infidelity (The Thornbirds).  Amy was very attentive to her appearance at first, but after the tent episode, she had a noticeably more unkempt appearance. I clearly must have said something that made Amy’s brain snap, but what? We stayed at several hotels, went to Vancouver Island to see the  Butchart Gardens and had crumpets and tea, and soon arrived home. I never saw or spoke with the girls again (until recently). 
It remains to this day a mystery as to the behavior change with the two girls, though resolving this mystery is now a moot point. The girls invited me as a single guy to this and many other trips alone with them.  Around me, Amy was quite coquettish and flirty,  so I assumed that she had a strong interest in me.  Sadly, so often a girl will casually “play” a with guy and use them for their own purposes, without consideration as to how it might affect the guy. Because of the timing and soon-to-come events that happened in her life, Amy must have already had a very deep, strong relation(if not actually being formally engaged) with a doctor from work, the doctor that she soon married. Thus, Amy’s behavior toward me was nothing short of perfidious, disingenuous, cruel and thoughtless, but also totally inappropriate with regard to her husband-to-be. 
I now look back on this entire episode in my life as one of God’s greatest blessings to me. The girl that I thought might be suitable for me would have been a really horrible choice. Though she was fun to be around and a very sweet, nice, attractive girl, she was profoundly lacking in integrity, personal and spiritual depth. I thank God for His providential guidance in my life, as painful as it may have been. It did not take long for me to learn that God had something far greater and more wonderful prepared for me, a lady beyond my wildest dreams, another story soon to come.

I left out many details that I felt discretion demanded omission from the text. During the time that I was getting to know Deb and Amy, there were many young boys in their early twenties coming out to visit the girls. One in particular that I remember, Ben, was as immature as imaginable. We would be driving around in the car with the girls in front, me and Ben behind, and Ben would roll down the window and hoot and holler at people to get a laugh, and Deb and Amy would both laugh and laugh, rather than insisting that Ben act his age, shut up, and shut the window. We did numerous trips with Jeff Groom on rafts, which the girls thoroughly enjoyed. They would have me over to their house, which was a small house on Mill Street immediately next to the home where the Millers lived. I remember dad throwing a celebration for my graduation from college in early June; we went out to a Chinese restaurant and Amy (and Deb?) were invited and came. I would occasionally go to the Holgate church while they were in town, and they fit the ACCA stereotype to the “t” with their long head coverings and manner of behavior while at church. It was easy to assume that most of their behavior outside of church would also be conducted in an ACCA manner. The girls would occasional hint at their discontentment with the strict AC manner of behavior and dress, that would be mostly a limited topic. They would also frequently suggest their disgruntlement with medicine, and seemed to view me as idealistic in my vision for health care as a caring profession. It is what you make of it. On our final trip together up to Canada, I had wanted to get Amy alone to talk to her about the nature of our relationship, which was hard to do since she and Deb were so close all the time. The tent episode seemed the opportunity. I noted that I wished that nothing that I said would break down our friendship, but then asked if our relationship was leading to a possible consideration toward marriage. I made it very clear that it was not a marriage proposal, but just trying to define the nature of our engagement together. An answer of “yes”, “no”, or “quite perhaps” would have been meaningful and quickly have settled the question. Instead, she mumbled something under her breath and then silence ensued. I have no clue what she said. The coldness of attitude of both Amy and Deb the next morning was profound. When I woke up, Amy was already out of the tent and speaking with Deb. I got a strange look. Did Amy tell Deb that I tried to rape her? It almost seemed like that, but the absence of any sort of explanation or response to me was most disheartening. The trip made a cataclysmic change in direction at this time. The backpacking trip that we had been planning together suddenly was out, though I was strongly encouraged to do it myself. Clearly, the girls seemed like they wished for time alone. They got it. If I had known better, I would have confronted them at the time as to what was the matter, and it is my greatest regret now that I did not. I did the hike, and as previously noted in a draft of my memoirs, I had climbed the trail leading up to the side of a waterfall, when I seriously considered suicide. Only for a few moments, and the only time in my life it has ever happened to me, but my emotions raging so confusedly that I didn’t know what to do. What did I do wrong with the girls? What was there that I didn’t know about them? I liked both of the girls and if either one of them would have suggested to me that I propose for marriage, I probably would have considered it strongly. But this? The coldness? Nothing made sense, which led to the serious turmoil in my soul. For the remainder of the trip, Deb would occasionally address me, but Amy would not. In the earlier part of the trip, Amy was very attentive to her appearance. After the tent episode, she had a distinct unkempt mode with uncombed hair, and less well dressed. She was glued to a romantic novel of priestly infidelity. I guess that was her escape from me. Just as strange, they never spoke to me again after the trip. Before the trip, we were in contact all the time. After the trip, not even a whisper.

There was a portion of the text that I decided to delete, only in that I seemed to be running the “Amy” story just a little to long. It is as follows…

Brief Discussion Interlude

I’ve mentioned before that the raison d’être for me writing this book is for my posterity, with the hopes that they don’t make the same mistakes that I made or were made by people that came into my life, and which heavily influenced my subsequent thinking and behavior. This brief section is now mostly advice and not history. I’m adding it because it’s my book, and I can do whatever I darn well please! Also, it’s being added because so often my story above happens in various degrees to many men in life. I’ll begin with a true story of something that happened recently at the Krankenhaus with two people, (we’ll give them fictitious names of Dick and Jane), male and female, both about the same age, both being very good nurses, both working very closely together, both single and looking for a partner, and both very good friends of mine. Sally was a vixen. She was overly friendly, and usually just a little bit too friendly to male counterparts that came into her life, myself not excluded. She had a sweet outgoing “Amy” type personality. I could foresee problems brewing. Dick began to fall head over heels over Jane, and rightly so, as she tended to provoke those feelings with her coy, sexy demeanor towards him. Eventually, Dick started to determine that she , for a deeper relationship, and so asked her out. The rebuff was sharp, as she had no interest in him. Yet, Jane’s luring, provocative, flirty relationship at the hospital with Dick persisted. When Dick then responded with more advances, he was reported to the nursing staff and a severe reprimand was issued. It was deemed to be his fault. Nothing much was ever said to Jane. Very soon afterward, Dick committed suicide. This is not an uncommon tale. The male is usually blamed as “aggressive”, or as a “horny creep”, perhaps even lecherous or salacious, and yet the guy is manifesting a very appropriate response to the “mating” behavior of the gal. I was deeply saddened in that I really liked Dick a lot, and also felt like I had a somewhat shared experience with him. 

You would think that such behavior would not happen in the Christian community, yet it is probably as common as in the secular world, as we are all human. You would wish that Christian mommies would sit down with their young daughters and instruct them properly in the appropriate behavior around men and the manner of attracting a mate. That talk would frequently be a vain process, since many kids will do whatever they wish, wanting to “rebel” and break free from their parents, their church, and their upbringing. The vixen behavior offers many great rewards for many young ladies who are troubled by self-acceptance and need to create their own personal identity. Can you think of even one eligible young maiden who would not want a gaggle of male counterparts swooning over them, competing for the possible prize of claiming the lady as their own? Scripture gives ample advice for young people in their behavior, though it is certain that most of it will be ignored or deemed anachronistic, out of date, not in touch with the times. For the Christian lady, provocative behavior is an affront to God because it assumes that such behavior will give you a broader choice for a correct mate, even though God doesn’t need your help. And, it’s a brutish, vicious lie to those with which you have no marital interest. Trust in God and honesty, rather than tactics, girls and boys!

So, why am I bringing this up 40 years later? Honestly, thereof some parts of my psyche that not even I understand. I truly hadn’t thought deeply about what had happened for forty years. I have spoken about it to Betsy, and she understood that there was a “girl” issue that I had with Amy, but we left it at that. Then, I retired and started to write my Memoirs. When I came to the Amy and Deb pericope, a lightning bolt hit me. What was I to write? What happened? What happened? What happened? What happened? I had several sleepless nights where the question gnawed at me again and again and again. What happened? I discussed the issue with Betsy, and she was a little taken back because she thought it might be an issue of an “old flame” resurrecting in my consciousness. Yet, it was everything but that. I had absolutely no romantic interests any longer in either Amy or Deb. But, I also had absolutely NO clue as to what had happened to either of them. Did they get married? Where were they living? Kids? Were they still nurses? What was going on with them? I had relatives in the Illinois area who were Facebook friends who were quickly able to connect me to where I might locate Amy and Deb. Because I thought that Deb seemed to be the older and more mature of the two girls, I tried contacting her first. I learned that she was married, had children, and her husband Mike Leman (so Deb Hodel became Deb Leman) was running a landscape business in the Denver, Colorado area. She is shown on the internet to have significantly aged, now with grey hair put up in a bun in the typical AC fashion. I e-mailed her husband who noted that Deb had remarked about good times in Portland and gave me her e-mail address. I e-mailed her, and after many weeks, I have never received a response. So, I’m not sure if Deb is still mad at me, thinks that I’m a rapist maniac, or another sort of lunatic to be shunned at all cost. I have no clue.

Mike and Deb (Hodel) Leman

I then undertook a very brief internet search, and with little effort was able to learn much. I found Amy on Facebook. She maintains a closed account, so has no entries can be seen to the public after 2015. It may be that she doesn’t use Facebook, but with her large volume of friends, it is possible that she only uses Facebook in a manner totally restricted to her friends. It took under an hour of internet searching to sort out what was up with her. She is married to an internist that she met in Portland at Providence Hospital. She left Portland after he finished residency in June 1979, and they settled in central Illinois close to family for five years, her husband got fed up with Illinois winters, they moved for 3 years to a small town in North Carolina close to Fayatteville, and then returned to Georgia where her husband was from, to settle in Athens, Georgia for the last 30 years. They have two children, the oldest is 29 years old, so they waited at least 10 years before having a child, started only once they got to Georgia. The oldest did four years of “mission” work in Africa, and is now living at home again, and running a small private counseling service in the area. The younger child went to medical school, got washed out of surgery residency after one year in San Francisco, CA, and is now back in Tennessee, completing a radiology residency. She married some dude that is non-professional in 2011 whom she has been with since 2008.

The two online photos of Amy recently are below…

Amy and Paul Peteet, 2015?
Amy with youngest daughter, 2011?

I remember Amy as a brunette with longer hair. She has put on a moderate amount of weight. If I were to ever run into her, I would have no clue as to who she was.

I was able to call and speak with Amy, and then eventually e-mail her a few times. Our phone conversation came first, where I received much of the information about how she was doing. She had a very distinct southern accent. It began with her noting that she did not even remember me at first, but contacted Deb in order to refresh her memory as to who I was. She remembered very little of our activities together, save for climbing Hood, and the first part of our last trip together. When I asked her about our tent conversation, she noted that she had absolutely no recollection. I specially asked her about our “marriage” discussion, which she claimed she does not recall EVER having the word “marriage” brought up. In fact, she truly claimed that she had no recall of much of that episode in her life. She noted that she was married on 06OCT1979, but when asked as to when she met Paul (her husband) and whether or not she was actually dating him before our last adventure together, she said she didn’t know and I could tell that she really didn’t wish to address that topic. She became very skittish at this point, as though I had hit a raw nerve. I had hoped that during the phone call, Amy would have at least admitted that she did have conflicting interests, and admitted to some of her antics. Instead, I got nothing. On hanging up, I began to think that perhaps I was totally crazy, and that nothing ever happened between us. Yet, other people involved in my life at that time confirm that it was not me that was the looney tune, that the story I give above really did happen. How could a conversation give such confusing results?

During the phone call, Amy mentioned that she continued to work as a nurse through their marriage, with one lengthy interval (I presume when she was having children) only to return to nursing with great difficulty, finding even after a short interval, nursing had changed so much, it was like practicing in another profession. I had sympathies for her, as Betsy had gone through the same experience. What I found most surprising was that she was still in nursing. When we were together in Portland, I would often talk about my ideals about medicine, especially after I was accepted into medical school. Deb and Amy would often make fun of me, informing me that I would get over that ideology quite quickly, something that didn’t quite happen the way they suggested. They would both speak of the desire to get out of nursing, perhaps Debbie being the most vocal; I don’t recall exactly. Thus, though Deb is no longer in nursing or healthcare and I can presume that she’s been out of nursing for a lengthy period of time, Amy persisted up to recently in nursing.

Since the phone call, she was able to read my comments in the Memoirs which I sent her, since I wished to make sure that nothing offended her about my comments. Her response back was that she apologized that she might have hurt me, and asked my forgiveness. She felt immense relief when I suggested that I was going to delete much of the analysis of what I wrote about the entire affair. I also noted that she and her husband are now Presbyterian (PCA), and actually attend a PCA church close to their home, named Faith Presbyterian Church, just like our church, though it appears to be considerably more liberal. It’s a very odd coincidence. So, I am now providing an even more in-depth analysis here, something that I would have NEVER said on a public forum.

First, I realize that Amy (and Deb) are now totally different persons than the people that I knew forty years ago. Secondly, interest in meeting them formally, and reconnecting is minimal. I tend to care about anybody that comes across my life, especially as closely as those two girls were, so I don’t view this as a totally trashed relationship. As I said in my Memoirs, many people (like I feel Amy and Deb did to me) throw away their friends like a person would discard a used tampon. For Amy, she also seemed to throw away much of her family and definitely discarded her church. I don’t reciprocate the feeling that I would discard family or friends. With Amy, I have so many friends I can’t keep up with them, so Amy becomes a very low priority for truly getting to know her a second time around.

But, I am still bedeviled by the question as to what happened on our last trip together, that for very irrational reasons, as it still seems to be very unsettling to me. Ultimately, I realize that it is a totally moot point, since I almost certainly will NEVER figure out what happened. Amy would have to come to me and honestly tell me what happened, and I doubt that will ever happen. So, how do I analyze this entire affair?

Secondly, Amy (and Deb), while being sharp girls, had a strong sense of immaturity about themselves, and how they viewed life. I am hopeful that both of them grew out of this, but how, I will never know. This immaturity, or naiveté, led them to behave in a somewhat thoughtless manner toward the opposite sex. They should have really known better at their age.

Then, I have very strong thoughts about possibly something that I said or did that might have deeply offended the girls. I would love to know because, to me, amends are completely in order if I had done something wrong. Perhaps my emotions were just over-reading the situation, but such an explanation doesn’t settle matters for me since they were so aggressive about maintaining a relationship, and suddenly so cataclysmic about cutting it off. After the trip, Deb lived in Portland another year or so, and Amy another 9 months, and yet zero contact was made. That forces me to be overwhelmingly puzzled. Did they expect me to maintain contact, and were disappointed that I did not? Was there any note at all from them wondering how things were going in medical school? It seemed like when they dropped me off at the end of our trip, they expected no further relation or contact to be maintained.

Specifically looking at Amy, she would have left Portland in June 1979, or nine months after our trip. Since Paul finished his residency and immediately left from Portland to central Illinois, clearly they would have already been engaged to be married. Considering that you apply for jobs 6-12 months in advance after residency, that leaves Paul applying for work in Bloomington/Normal starting roughly in September to December of 1978. So, it is highly unlikely that she just happened to stumble across Paul after early September 1978 and immediately fell in love and get engaged to be married soon after that. I can only conclude that she was already in a deep relationship, if not already engaged, by the time we went on our trip. This makes Amy pathetically dishonest about taking a young eligible male on multiple activities over the course of several years, and then a trip alone with her and her best friend, act very coquettish toward me, and not telling me what was going on with her. Even worse, when I brought up the issue of marriage while conversing in the tent, why didn’t she just tell me what was going on? To that, I conclude that perhaps her church issue comes into play. In the ACC, you are not allowed to marry outside of the church, and such an action leads to expulsion and notification that you’ve lost your salvation. It leads to true problems with family that are church members. Thus, there is good reason for her to have kept it secret, perhaps even from Deb. I don’t know. I can only guess and hypothesize. Certainly, talk from both Deb and Amy suggested a sense of rebellion against the church of their upbringing. I can’t help but imagine how much grief they might have brought to their parents. But, there is no other reasonable explanation for everything that might have taken place. It certainly explains the reason that Amy went into disheveled appearance mode after the tent experience. Was it that Amy was trying to set me up with Deb? I don’t know. Deb certainly wasn’t making any strong moves toward me, or was she? Was this something that I missed?

The sad part is that Amy seems to have no comprehension as to what she did wrong, or if she does know, how she has somehow justified it in her mind. Her apologies are for hurting me, and not for misleading me, lying to me, acting completely inappropriate toward me, and for treating me like used toilet paper after the tent incident. There is an enormous difference between being sorry for the consequences of one’s actions, and being sorry for the actual actions themselves. In truth, Amy was leading a double life with two guys, and I presume that Paul knew nothing about me or my activities with Amy, or were told the events above with the most minimal details. Amy’s behavior I can now regard as having been nothing but vicious, cruel, thoughtless, and intentional, knowing what was going on. I could not be more happy that the relationship terminated, not wishing to have had a longer commitment to somebody as Amy was at that time in her life.

If you have read my Memoirs, you know how I feel about Southern Christians. Integrity is not their strong point. They are more concerned about looking good rather than being good. Christianity is more a social event, and church a social club, than a true representation of the body of Christ. It is perhaps fitting that Amy moved south to bible belt like-minded and like-behaving friends.

Was Amy being honest about stating up-front that she had a hard time remembering who I was? There are two possibilities here. First is that Amy is wantonly socially demented, treating others as though they were temporary, to be used at one’s convenience, and discarded as quickly as they were gotten. Who else forgets friends that you did activities with on a weekly basis for well over a year or two? The other possibility is that she simply was lying to me. I’d like to prefer the later because she seemed to be a sweet kid. Amy was disingenuous, a light weight, a person willing to hurt others to achieve some personal benefit. I wonder if her life continued on like that? I would like to think that Amy matured, grew up, and came to her senses, yet my most recent interactions with her suggest otherwise. I pity her.

When I contacted Amy, what did I really wish would have happened? I would have liked her to identify our past relationship together. I would have liked her to acknowledge her past actions (assuming that I am correct with Amy’s relationship with Paul above), and confess that she was in error about that. If all of my assumptions are incorrect, that she would have at least told me why she behaved the way she did. Instead, she left me feeling that I was some immature, horny, creepy little kid lusting after her in the past, still unable to resolve the lost love that I had hoped for, and she having to behave as she did to try to settle my fawning after her. She was very reluctant to provide me contact information, strongly suggesting a desire to never to allow the ability for mutual exchange of information. It’s like she knew that she had something to hide in her life. It actually made me angrier, rather than relieved that I had now solved a forty year mystery. Amy was a rebel; Amy was for Amy alone, and parents, family, church, and friends be damned. But it was worth it to her—she had no more obligation to wear head coverings!

I have no animosity toward Amy or Deb though I am overwhelmingly grateful that our relationship ended. The blindness of the sex drive toward the opposite sex sometimes needs nothing less than divine intervention to remedy. The marvelous grace of God in bringing me Betsy and at the perfect timing for that to have happened, in that it gave me time to mentally resolve the issue of being discarded by another girl. It brought me a girl of the perfect temperament and personality for me, and I could not be more grateful. On reflecting on this entire episode, I very often find myself in tears, grateful that God brought me such a wonderful girl. I liken it to me feeding on slops in a pig’s trough (with Amy), only for God to bring me into a royal banquet hall to feast on the delicacies fit only for a king (with Betsy). If that isn’t a reason for me to be grateful to our Lord almighty, then nothing would be. Christ died not only for our sins, but also to make us good. And this is a wonderful example of the manifest blessings of Christ to those who love Him, even though He may have had to take us through a very dark valley. Thank you Lord for Betsy!!!!!!

It is also time for me to now consider the re-thinking of this episode of my past life as closed. If you are reading this, please do not discuss it with me. I wish to move on. Entertain higher thoughts with me. Amen.

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Jan 25
Resupply boxes

T -70 and counting.

The PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) is a 2650 mile trail that runs from the Mexican border to Canada. Over the distance, multiple deserts and dry spots are crossed, mountains are climbed, and even a pass of 13,100 feet altitude must be negotiated. Specifically, the route runs as follows…

Some of the trail in Oregon and Washington I’ve already hiked, or I am quite familiar with the trail. Other parts, like in California will be totally new to me. Although the trail starts in Southern California, and I will be starting my hike on 04APR, I will almost certainly be hitting snow within the first 100 miles, and challenging snow outside of Idyllwild/Palm Springs. So, I await eagerly the snow reports that will be forthcoming in March.

Training: I am trying to prepare my body for this feat. Already I’ve been hiking up trails and stiff peaks, holding about a 3 mph pace on average. This includes carrying a 30 lb pack, which I’ll be increasing to 40 lb soon. I don’t anticipate typically needing a 40 lb pack, but it still helps to improve the conditioning. The first day on the trail, I’ll try to get a 20 miler in, going from the border to Lake Morena. Why? There is a campground with water at Lake Morena and no guarantee of water before then. Also, there is a restaurant that serves hamburgers! I don’t want to be late for the restaurant. I also don’t want a situation where I burn myself out the first day. Most hikers will typically take most of their zeros (days where they do no hiking at all, like when in town to buy groceries and wash clothes) in the first 700 miles, which is just before the High Sierra.

Resupply: There are a lot of ways to resupply. Many will send most of their resupply packages, and depend minimally on needing stores and other resupply sources. Many will hit a town, and their purchase their resupply for the next two stops. Some will hitchhike into town at every road. I am doing a moderate higher resupply schedule than average, preparing between 20-22 boxes for the trail. I just need to go over them all one more time.

There are things that one cannot anticipate. That is how often one will need a change of clothes, or when certain equipment will break. For this, I am preparing contingency items for Betsy so that I could ask for some gizmo and she’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Other things, like shoes, I just plan on replacing every 500 or so miles. And yes, I already have 5 more pair of shoes boxed and ready to go.

The resupply boxes are all left open, so that if Betsy needs to slip in something or another before mailing the package, she may do that. They are all labeled. Since my trail name is Pilgrim, I printed many circular labels that include images of Pilgrim from Pilgrim’s Progress, that will help identify my packages. All she’ll need to do is to tape the box shut, put on an ETA (for me) at the post office, and send it off.

Sponsorship: I don’t need sponsorship. In fact, by doing this hike, my personal cost of living drops. You live simple when on the trail. Rather, I am trying to raise money for a mission project deeply of interest to me, which is the Huguenot Heritage. It is run by a good friend Francis Foucachon, who was a distinguished French chef who found Christ. As an ordained pastor, he now translates Reformed literature into the French language. It is a vital ministry, and God is working strong in French-speaking peoples of this world. I beg of you to support this ministry. I will be working with Francis to determine how you could support them on my backpack-a-thon. If you donate just 1¢/mile, you will only be out $26.50, or 10¢/mile, only $265.00, at most. That assumes that I am successful for the entire hike. I give myself about a 10% chance of making it all the way through. Please pray about this, and consider it seriously. Besides, not only does it further motivate me, it’s a great tax write-off.

Final Packing: I have my base weight down to 19 lb. In the old days, that would have been considered impossible. Now, it is still considered a touch on the heavy side. I will be vigorously scratching my head, packing, repacking and weighing everything that goes into my pack. Even fractions of an oz. matter. There are people that cut off their tooth brush handles to reduce weight. Many will not carry a stove. I’m not that valiant. Still, there are subtle ways to reduce weight, like omitting stuff sacs, re-thinking how much food you really need to carry, and picking here and there to lose weight. There are some interesting simple things. I will not be carrying paper maps. Guthooks Guides has the trail totally mapped out, with virtually every point of interest to the hiker, like campsites, water sources, obstacles on the trail, etc. This Guthook Guide goes on your cell phone. And, the map on your cell phone ties into your gps unit, so that you always know exactly where you are… so long as your cell phone doesn’t get damaged, or you accidentally burn out all of your battery supply.

Transportation to California: I’ll be taking the train down to California. A friend, Tom Braithwaite, who lives in the San Diego area will pick me up, let me stay at his house the night, and then dump me off at the trailhead. I’ll have to be purchasing train tickets soon for that.

Permits: Permits are now needed to do the trail, especially when going through the High Sierra. I have my PCT permit and California Fire Permit. All I need and am waiting for is the Canada Entry Permit. I don’t anticipate that they’ll turn me down, and if they do, I’ll reach Canada and then exit in the USA at Hart’s Pass.

Betsy and Home Arrangements: Betsy will be babysitting our 12th grandchild, starting the end of January. This will tie her up 5 days a week, up to summer, when Sarah gets off as a teacher for the school year. She will be going back in early September. This means most of my hike will be with her stuck at home. I’ll stay in touch day by day whenever I have cell phone coverage. Betsy needs to know which resupply package gets sent when, where all my camping stuff is, so that if I need something, she’ll have a clue where to find it.

Technology: I used to be on top of technology, until Technopoly took over (See Neil Postman’s book of that title). Determining how to do simple things, like posting a blog page from an iPhone will be challenging to me. Ultimately, I will figure some things out while on the trail. But, I’m making sure my camera can communicate with the iPhone, and that WordPress on the iPhone works well, as well as having FaceBook access.

Getting Psyched: I confess, I frequently look in the mirror, and wonder if I’m not blooming crazy. Yet, 10-20% of all thru-hikers (hikers that hike the whole tamale in one season) are over age 60. And, of all hikers, 30-40% are successful. Many of the unsuccessful are very unsuccessful for a reason, like not being prepared, or not thinking realistically about the endeavor ahead. So, I will do my best to be mentally prepared for this. After all, I’ve dreamed about hiking the PCT for many years, and I estimate that there are not many more years that I will be physically able to attempt such a feat. So, this will be my year, and I’ll give it my darnedest.

So, stay in touch. Pray for me, root me on, support my backpack-a-thon, and stay in touch. Pilgrim

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Jan 01

The New Year is a good time to reflect on life, including the past, present and future. This New Year brings particular note, in that it is the first year I enter as a retired person soon to be on Medicare and social security, and making the transitions in life that are ultimately an end to a long journey. It remains a mystery as to how long the ending will be. I could die as I write this piece (okay, I’ve finished this piece, and remain alive), or I could live to be past 100. If I had my choice, I’d live for a full but short life, rather than a long life.

In the past month, Betsy (my wife) and I have purchased our funeral arrangements, caskets (the cheapest wood casket on the market!) and burial plot with stone—the only absence from the headstone is the dates of our death, and that’s something that only God knows. Funeral preparations remind one how fleeting life is. As I look back on life, I cannot help but think that it is but for the grace of God that Betsy and I are still here, more madly in love than ever, and yet so different from each other. We’ve had some very difficult times in life, though the blessings have been so much greater, and it overwhelms any of the trials we may have had to bear. I know of a certain that I could not have made it without her, and I don’t think any other person in the world could have filled her shoes.

This coming year offers some exciting times for us. 1. We have to figure out how to do Medicare. We’ve already applied for social security, which will start in March. 2. I am very busy making preparations, including planning, packaging resupply mailers and doing training hikes, for my 2650 mile walk on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) which runs in the mountains, through desert, and follows the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges from Mexico to Canada. I face it realistically, and realize that it may end up being nothing but a section hike, but it is a dream that I will pursue until circumstances possibly prove otherwise. 3. Betsy begins a year of babysitting our youngest grandchild Rachel, daughter of Sarah. This little Fleischklopps is cuter than cute, and a precious little kiddo. 4. Our youngest daughter Diane graduates from Nurse Practitioner school with a doctorate in nursing. We are so proud of her. I call her a “noctor” (not a doctor), but I feel comfortable that Diane is brighter than many of the doctors that I know. She will do well. 5. We celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary on 20OCT. I’m not sure what we will do. Betsy and I love to go to Jamaica to vacation, but this year is something special that I will leave undecided for now. 6. Reading… I have a veritable stack of books that need to be read by me. I love reading history, and have large volumes awaiting on the founding fathers and civil war era. I really want to get back into Herman Bavinck’s magisterial four volume work in systematic theology, titled Reformed Dogmatics. Ever since I took a systematic theology class from JI Packer, I have had a love for reading through systematic theology texts. Bavinck’s is the most challenging one I’ve encountered. 7. Getting back into long-distance cycling. I’ve taken a short pause from cycling in order to be prepared for the PCT, but have an endearing love for cycle touring. 8. Refreshing my language studies. I have taken German, Russian, French, and Chinese in my life. I no longer have an interest in Russian, and Chinese is interesting but maybe a little too challenging to pick up. I’m reasonably good at German but would like to become semi-fluent. I’m passable in French, but would like to be better. Some day, I’d like to hike the Camino de Santiago with Betsy, and so would maybe want to learn passable Spanish. 9. Trying to spend a little time a day practicing my trumpet. 10. Possibly start writing a Memoirs. My father wrote a short book on the history of his life, at the behest of us children of his. It was awesome. It may be perhaps time to do the same, before my memory fails me too badly. 11. Last, but definitely the most important, I would like to have this year as more consecrated to my Lord Jesus Christ, more devoted to His word, more diligent to walk in His ways, and more eager to have entire being, thought, word, and deed centered around Scripture and obedience to Him. Soli Deo Gloria

The things that we love tend to be our motivation for doing things in life, and there are three things that I identify that seem to be my loves, and motivation for still living. They are listed in order of my priorities.

1. Scriptures —I’d offer a lengthy quote or perhaps wax eloquent here, but perhaps the best statement is to encourage the dear reader to just go over Psalm 119. May I also regard God’s word as more important than silver and gold and everything else most precious to me.

2. Family and friends. First and foremost is my wife Betsy. We have been together nearly forty years now. We’ve had our hard times and good times. We’ve had fights, but most overwhelmingly, we’ve had cherished moments of loving each other, ravishing each other, enjoying each other, and pleasing each other. I could not think of another person who could better fit me as a lover, friend, helpmate, advisor, companion, support, wife, mother, grandmother or human being. She truly has been a gift from God to me. My children, all four of them, have been the joy of my life. The grief and trials they have brought us pales in the light of all the joy they have given us. I am grateful that they all are Christian, and have been very successful in life. Plus, they have given us the most adorable grandchildren. It is now Opa’s (grandpa’s) duty to teach them to walk rightly and to help them enjoy life. I wish to have special time taking each one separately backpacking and on outings. My siblings also have been a delight. Now with retirement, I am able to make better contact with them, and it is wonderful to be able to enjoy their fellowship once again. I think long about many of my current and past friends and the change of year causes one to focus particularly on past friends. One would love to be in perpetual contact with them, yet it is humanly impossible. Sadly, I have many past friends, all of which are cherished by me, and often thought of. The words from a wonderful song “Blest be the ties that binds” come to mind “When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain; but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.” My pastor has been a source of strength and encouragement, a soul coach, but also a good friend. On a slightly darker note, I also think of what I would call false-friends—those friends who were friends in appearance only, but then revealed their true self, who used you, who gained your trust, only to mislead and betray your trust. They are the Judas’s in one’s life. Even King David had such experiences, and reflects on it in Psalms 55,

For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
then I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God’s house we walked in the throng.

Memory of these false-friends sometimes bring deep grief and sleepless nights, wondering why a person would act and behave the way they did. I’m thankful that there have been few of these in my life. I truly pray that I have not been a false friend to anybody else.

3. Nature. This is my Father’s world! The heaven’s declare the glory of God, and the firmament His handiwork. God has given me the strength and capability to delight in his world, and I will do that to the fullest possible. From the seashore to the desert to the mountains, all are wonderful. My favorite spot is in the mountains. I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from where my help comes. My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Whether on a bicycle, on foot, or in a car, I love adventuring into wilderness. It is my best chance to reflect, meditate, and wonder over the goodness of our God. soli deo gloria! 

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Dec 15

He
33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;
and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
38 Confirm to your servant your promise,
that you may be feared.
39 Turn away the reproach that I dread,
for your rules are good.
40 Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life! ESV

OK, I’ve spent the last month, reading and re-reading multiple times over Psalm 119. It seems to be one of the most neglected Psalms in Scripture, except for a few choice verses. There are hidden gems in this Psalm that misses inattentive readers.  Here is an example of progression in faith in God in the segment titled He. Note particularly…

33 “Teach me”  Faith demands knowledge, knowledge that requires active interaction of the Almighty. You can’t have faith in God without knowledge, gained by spending time in Scripture and prayer. 
34 “Give me understanding” You know the facts, you know the Bible, you know the teachings, statutes and ways of the Lord. Head knowledge must then lead to a deeper understanding. What do the statutes of the Lord really mean? Jesus Christ in the sermon on the Mount provided a wonderful example by taking various of the 10 commandments, and showing their full implications, eg, you shall not kill implies not hating your brother, neighbor, or enemy. 
35 “Lead me” So you now understand the ways of the Lord, but do you DO them? Walking in the way is much different that just knowing it. 
36 “Incline my heart” You are now doing the commands of God out of duty, but do you really delight in His commands? Do you cherish them above all things, above riches and silver and gold? 
37 “Turn my eyes from… worthless things” Maturity demands focus, and focus on the Lord and His ways need to be a total preoccupation of our hearts and lives. This takes time!
38 “Confirm …your promise”. Everybody wishes for instant confirmation, proof that the Lord is good and worth serving. The Lord confirms in His own time. It is not evil to ask the Lord to confirm Himself, but it is evil to demand a time schedule of Him
39 “Turn away the reproach” Anybody truly walking with God will come under reproach. It should be an assumption rather than an exception. But, David shows that it is not evil to ask for relief from this reproach.
40 “Behold I long for your precepts” This is the statement of a mature man of God. Do we constantly long for God in every moment in our lives? Do we see that walking in God’s ways is the most wonderful thing in the world. Sadly, we reach that phase, and then we die.

Or, we go on to reading the next section of Psalm 119, waw. Psalm 119:he is a wonderful illustration of maturity in our Lord. May be all grasp His teachings in this wonderful Psalm. 

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Sep 23
Holden Lake

Holden Washington Trails Association Volunteer Vacation 15-22SEPT2018

I try to include 7-10 days/year as a volunteer for the WTA working on trails. I love to backpack, and certainly have not done it as much as I’d like over my lifetime, yet I still feel that a few days “pay-back” for all the hard work that goes into building and maintaining a trail is worth it. Even on national lands, much of the trail maintenance is performed by volunteers, and it is hard work, so I feel that I can afford to do some trail work each year. I had already spent time with the PCTA on a Goat Rocks work project, and a long weekend on Mt. Rainier with the WTA. This trip was originally full, but when an opening came up, I quickly signed up, in that I had never been into this area, save for climbing Glacier Peak 40 years ago with Hannes Zuercher. 

Holden Village is not reachable by vehicle. Either one must backpack in, or take the boat ⅔ the way up Lake Chelan to Lucerne, and then be shuttled in 9 miles to the village. It was started as a mining camp in the 1930’s, the principle focus being copper from a mountain in the vicinity. The village was abandoned in the late 1950’s and then purchased by the Lutheran church as a retreat center. Later, it was discovered that iron leachings from the tailings were leading to a 2 mile section of Railroad creek not having any fish. $600 million later, and much further destruction of the area has led to a possible recovery of the Cutthroat trout in the short creek segment, but uncertainty remains about long-term viability of the entire project. We were not at the village to help with mine remediation, but to fix and clear the trails that run into and out of the village.  Our focus was to brush the MonkeyBear trail and the Holden Lake, Hart Lake trails, while building a culvert/turnpike on the Hart Lake trail. The work was a success, though much was still left to be done. Our leader was Jackson Lee, who was incredibly delightful to work with, probably one of the better leaders that I’ve had to work under, and very motivated at the task at hand. 

In mid-week, I did a 16+ mile hike to Holden Lake and then to Hart Lake, a stupendously beautiful venture of breath-taking quality. Holden Lake sits right under Bonanza Peak, the tallest non-volcanic peak in Washington. Hart Lake was on the trail up to Cloudy Pass and the PCT, and currently used as a bypass for PCT thru-hikers owing to an Agnes Creek fire just north of Suiattle Pass. The other Ken and Carol were close behind me. On my way back from Hart Lake, I got to walk out with 3 thru-hikers who have stayed together since departing Campo. 

Holden Village is run by the Lutheran church. They have Vespers every evening for 30 minutes, starting at 19:00. I usually attended. The services were quite different from traditional Lutheran liturgical worship that I was familiar with, having a focus on personal therapy as religion and worship of  the “happy feel-good eco-artsy-pacifist-inclusive-of-everything-god”. The staff were all very nice, and it was a joy to get to know them. Most of the workers were also volunteers. The closest thing I could think of to describe Holden Village was “The Village” portrayed in the tv series The Prisoner starting Patrick McGoohan, best known as the secret agent man. 

The first work day had heavy rain, and then we had sunny weather until Thursday, when it was cloudy but without rain. Departure on Saturday had more rain. The boat ride out was late in the afternoon, and I was able to make it home by 21:15 that evening.  Photos of the trip follow…

Tam on the trip in
The boat docked in Lucerne, headed up to Stehekin
Our crew gets a shuttle bus ride up to the Village
My bed in the Village
Our cabin in the village
Mountains surround the village
More of the village
The mine remediation project
Mine remediation structures
Ditto
Iron rich crud from the runoff collected downstream and then dumped upstream in this giant basin.
Drain runoff Woman hole (gender inclusive)
Attempt to reforest tailings
Eager beaver workers waiting to play in the dirt.
The turnpike crew, with a thru-hiker included on the far right, and forest service person in yellow.
View from the village
Our day packs are dropped, tools properly placed by the trail, and work commences
MonkeyBear Falls, site of Tuesday’s lunch stop 
The beginning of the turnpike/culvert
Rod, playing in the mud, digging drainage for the culvert
The turnpike filled in with rock followed by dirt using burrito-roll technique
Day hike up to Holden Lake
Higher up to Holden Lake, Bonanza Peak in the center
Holden Lake beside Bonanza Peak
Holden Lake, glaciers hovering above the lake
The other Ken at Holden Lake
Carol and Donald arriving at Holden Lake
Wild Ken in Wild-erness 
Hart Lake from above
The completed turnpike

Culvert running under the turnpike
Drainage beside the turnpike
Completely exhausted trail workers, barely making it.
Departure at Lucerne Landing, the boat arriving in the distance
Very happy trail workers, including Jackson, Elaine, and Pat
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