Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dignity Intact - Part 1

The definitions of the word dignity in part include the following:
1. The quality or state of being worthy of esteem or respect.
2. Inherent nobility and worth.
3. Poise and self-respect.

The site contributes these thoughts on the issue:
Human dignity is inalienable – that means it is an essential part of every human being and is an intrinsic quality that can never be separated from other essential aspects of the human person.

I have preserved my identity, put its credibility to the test and defended my dignity. What good this will bring the world I don't know. But for me it is good. ~ Vaclav Havel
I left the house yesterday morning planning on being in town briefly  and then heading to Shorts Springs to hike along the ridge overlooking Machine Falls.
These are links to my previous trip to this very lovely natural area just outside the city limits early last month:
I had been dressed in bike clothes all morning waiting for a call from the mechanic letting us know that we could pick up LC's truck.
By mid morning I found myself grabbing for a paint brush and painting baseboards and crown moulding in the kitchen.
Dressed in a black shirt and black bike shorts I miraculously did not get any white paint on me but half way through the job finally wised up, realized that I was pushing my luck and changed into the same painting clothes that I had tossed carelessly on the floor in a corner of the bedroom after painting walls over the weekend.
By late morning I was done.
The mechanic (who was fixing something related to the trucks' inability to change over from the first gas tank to the second gas tank) still had not called, my motivation to bike at the base had disappeared right around the same time I was climbing down from a chair after painting over the range hood and I decided that since Short Springs was close to the house I would go walk.
LC promised to call me when the truck was done and I promised to head home to pick him up.
I was happy to be out of the house, happy to be walking at what I am learning is a very beautiful place, and happy to be outside in a very warm and variably cloudy/sunny day.
The last time I visited this place I took the right fork of the trail and headed straight for Machine Falls.
Today I decided to take the left fork.
I have walked a few times in years past out at Short Springs but do not know the area very well at all.
I did not remember where this trail led, or even if I had ever been on it before, but felt confident that I could keep track of where I was and how to get back to my starting place.
The trails yesterday morning were completely filled with fallen leaves and were at times difficult to see.
But the trails throughout Short Springs also include color coded blazes painted on trees on a regular basis which made navigating the area still doable even in late Fall.............
I stayed to the left heading for Busby Falls
Predictably, even on as warm and dry of a day as this was, I did not run into anyone else the entire time I was out at this place.
As I walked I was acutely aware of the silence.
I could hear the wind gusting through the trees periodically but other than that this was a completely quiet place.
As I kept walking I wondered how much longer I was going to need as much quiet and alone time as I still seem to need.
As much as I love being around my guy and my dog I still need to be away from them on a very regular basis.
I still need to be outside and away.
I wrote in my blog profile that when the world seems like it is spinning out of control I have always headed to the woods to find sanity.
The world is no longer spinning out of control.  It has again become a more stable and predictable place.
But I still feel a strong desire to be away from the world and alone in the woods regularly...............
At a fork in the trail I paused briefly wondering if I should continue straight or take this offshoot.
The trail entrance was blocked by small tree trunks but I did not know if that was by design or by accident given that there were a good number of downed trees in the park.
After a brief internal debate I elected to stay straight............
After only a few more minutes I could hear rushing water.
I stood on the trail and looked down through the trees and happily realized that I had found a fast moving stream.
There was no trail leading down to the water and so I precariously bushwhacked down wishing that I had worn better shoes with better grip than the ones I was wearing.
The walking was precarious, filled with slick tree roots and fallen leaves, and I climbed down slowly, greatly hoping that my feet would not slide out from under me.
As I was climbing down I found myself thinking about a race I did very early on in my racing career.
I was racing as part of a three woman team at a 12 hour race in Eastern Tennessee.
We were only a couple of hours into the race and had just finished a rappel.
We found ourselves walking slowly and precariously alongside the rock face we had just come down and the dirt under our feet was extremely soft and unstable, making forward progress extremely challenging.
Every few steps we had to balance check as the ground would slide out from under us.
All of a sudden we heard voices, looked far down the hill and realized that another team was walking easily and comfortably on a trail and traveling in the direction that we needed to go.
The trail was not on the map but once we saw the other team we three women exchanged looks as we realized "what the hell are we doing up here - we need to be down THERE"
The question of course was how to get down there.
Walking in single file we had a huge rock face right up against our left shoulders, dry and moving earth underneath our feet, and a very big vegetation filled hill immediately to our right.
We decided to go for it.
Head slowly and carefully straight down hill hoping that the ground under us would not give way and hoping that there were enough hand holds along the way down for balance and stability.
That plan lasted for exactly .20 seconds.
The ground let loose and all three of us started sliding uncontrollably.
Each one of us in turn made a grab for vegetation which stopped the slide.
And three competent and professional women in the real world looked up and down at each other wordlessly like idiots as we dangled on the side of a hill
We were all desperately hanging on to vegetation which was the only thing preventing us from sliding completely down the hill.
Only we still had a lot of hill left to go.
There was no choice in the matter.
We were now committed to getting to the bottom of the hill whether we wanted to or not.
And so for the next five minutes all three of us spent the trip downhill sliding and grabbing and stopping and sliding and grabbing and stopping and sliding and grabbing and stopping.
Until we finally found ourselves dumped unceremoniously onto the trail.
One of those head shaking "how did we get ourselves into this mess anyway?" kinda deals............
The root grabbing and precarious climb back up, and again wishing that I had worn better shoes with better grip.
But an uneventful trip down and back up anyway............
While taking pictures of the stream I noticed that there were other areas further up river with fast moving water and small waterfalls.
I wanted to take pictures of them and looked for a side trail to access the area.
There wasn't one.
I studied the gorge in front of me briefly as I considered bushwhacking.
As gorges go it wasn't huge and this late in the year there was little undergrowth to get caught up in, but finally discounted it having no desire to wander that far off trail.
I decided to head down the trail that was blocked by downed tree trunks (the same one that I had bypassed on the way in) hoping that it would either veer down towards the water or open up to another trail heading down that way.
It dumped me back onto the highway...........
Views from a bridge overpass in both directions.
Nice stream but the little waterfalls were not visible from this vantage point.............
And a view of the road leading directly to the Short Springs parking area.
The water tank is barely visible to the right of the picture..................
I headed back onto the trail intending to pick up my original trail and continue further to see what else I could find while wandering around............
For the first 30 minutes my visit to Short Springs had been extremely quiet and I was truly enjoying my time alone in the woods.
This was all new territory and new experiences and it was all good.
Suddenly my quiet and my solitude was interrupted by a very loud noise behind me.
Slightly alarmed at the unknown and abrupt noise I turned to see what it was and was surprised to see a plane that had obviously taken off only recently and was still climbing in elevation.
Where did THAT come from??
It was a military aircraft.
It was huge as it literally flew directly over the top of me.
I scrambled madly for my camera that was in a side pocket of my pack and then scrambled to turn it on, hoping that I could get a picture of it before it disappeared.
I got it just in time..............
Back on the Busby Falls trail............
But I was not on the trail for long before I unexpectedly came across this leaf covered set of steps.
Flying by the seat of your pants is never a really good idea when you are in the woods.
I had seen a trail map at one point in the long past so knew that there were a few trails out at Short Springs but had not looked at one in a long time and had never studied one at all.
But this area is only 420 acres in size and was surrounded by roads so how lost could I get?
So I flew by the seat of my pants and wandered wherever I felt like wandering.
The plan had been to stay on Busby Falls trail and the plan immediately changed when I saw the set of stairs.
They led down to the water and that is where I wanted to be............
Happily there was a set of wooden stairs that did indeed lead directly down to the stream...........
I was loving this place.............
The morning it finally all came to a head in Juneau I first received a call at home from one of my young managers and then called my supervisor at home to tell her that I was not coming in to work that day.
It was on a Friday and I would have a long weekend to think.
The last thing she said to me before I hung up the phone was:
"Karin, I'm going to try to let you leave Juneau with your dignity but I have to do my job"
I did not ask her what she meant by that.
But as I hung up the phone I knew intuitively that my employer would circle the wagons and I would be thrown under the proverbial bus.
I was not disappointed................

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