Last summer, Sally and I had a tree expert talk to us about "dead-wooding" the large Ponderosa Pine in the front yard. The process would involve cutting out dead limbs and damaged areas to open up the crown and improve both the health and the appearance of the tree. Our neighbor, Ron, came over while we were talking with the expert, and quickly surmised that we pretty much like trees, and especially big ones. Later, Ron showed me an old newspaper article about the largest Ponderosa Pine in eastern Washington, and asked me if I'd like to hike to it some time.
Last week we finally took that hike. Evan accompanied us as we drove a ways southeast of town and turned onto progressively smaller roads before departing the car and hitting the trail. The tree did not disappoint. More than 17 feet in circumference at chest height, it is a true forest giant. As I have reminded several people in the last week, nothing we will attempt in our lives will be as difficult or unlikely as what that tree has done just to remain where it is.
As we drove back home, Ron pointed to a number of granite outcroppings called "Big Rock", just northwest of Valleyford, off the Palouse Highway. Another hiking possibility took shape.
This morning Ron, Evan, Sally and I packed lunches, cameras, and water bottles and headed for Big Rock. We spent about three hours hiking up to the monoliths, clamoring up and down some of their most accessible faces, enjoying a beautiful spring day by ourselves, 10 or 20 minutes from 400,000 people who don't seem to realize that such beauty exists in our back yard.
It was a fantastic day. Much better than my customary perch on a chair with a cat and a computer for company. Wherever you live, my guess is there's someplace lovely close by. Why not take a hike?