The Bradlands

First Visitors

This last weekend a friend was planning a climbing trip in Leavenworth and ended up staying on the property. I've been anxious for someone to camp here. The biggest concern I had was if they'd be able to find it. The entrance is not hidden but not obvious either. "It's between the pine and the cotton wood" I say. The reality is that's not too helpful. It is forest land after all. They pulled up while Rita and I were exploring the north Bradlands which we don't visit much. I was looking for rocks for my fire pit. Rita was peeing everywhere. I didn't find many rocks and the ones I did find I didn't want to carry back obviously not having thought this through. They stopped when they spotted us. Rita tried to jump in their car through the window. "Where do we pull in?" "Between the pine and the cotton wood" I said. I pointed too. They missed the entrance. I like saying it. I'm going to keep saying it.

The rest of Friday night and Saturday morning was a different experience for me, put me in unfamiliar territory. I'm normally not thinking about anything, just doing what I feel like doing. Sometimes we walk. Sometimes I sit on a boulder by the river while Rita laps up the river water. Sometimes I take photos. Sometimes I just stare at a leaf, a tree, a mountain. The absolutely last thing on my mind is anyone else.

I found myself a little guarded. I have a good friend and 3 strangers literally stepping on this dream of mine. I don't need anyone's approval but there is still an urge to want to convey why I'm doing this. Luckily they're climbers and the fact that my land is right next to a well known crack climb makes the conversation easier. We headed down to the crag (climber lingo, look it up) Friday night. Everyone got excited about the climb and contemplated if they should do it that night. I just observed letting them figure things out. No climbing tonight but they'll be back first thing in the morning.

The rest of the night and morning took some adjusting. I was observing as usual but not of the land, of others. I hoped they were enjoying it. I wanted them to see what I see, to feel as relaxed as I do, and fall in love with the simplicity. But they were there to do other things and this is where it gets a little difficult…

Icicle Canyon is a recreational area. There's climbing, hiking, kayaking, and all sorts of exploring to be done but I can't yet participate. The drive out and back is rough on me still. I don't stay all weekend. I take Saturday night and Sunday in Seattle to get my head under control. I rest, edit photos, and do things that I enjoy keeping in mind that Monday morning I have to be able to work meaning I need a clear head. Compare this to a couple of years ago when I'd spend my nights and weekends laying on my couch to recover from the day so that I could work and support myself. Life now is good, damn good.

But there are the questions: "Why don't you spend all weekend here?", "What climbs have you done?", "What hikes have you been on?". I get tongue tied with the response. It used to start with "well, it's complicated" but I don't get into that anymore. I think I've settled on "I like to have time to get ready for the week" or some crap like that. It works but it's not the real reason nor does it convey what I really want to be doing. I don't like the lie. But it is what it is for now.

-bradrer on Aug 18, 2013