Friday, November 28, 2008

A Tradition within a Tradition

It’s been at least 12 years that several of us have made a tradition of a Thanksgiving morning hike in, around and above Hillsdale.

If you know Hillsdale, you’ll understand “above.” Think “hills.”

It’s a typical Portland “rain or shine” event. Sometimes it has been more like “deluge or shine.” Or "freeze or shine." Yesterday was pretty much shine. The walk was simple: Up then down.

The cast of hikers ranges between 15 and 25. The characters have changed over the years with a few notable exceptions.

Glenn and Karen Bridger and Don Baack are constants. Glenn, left foreground, organized us yesterday and invited us to introduce ourselves before we set out. He also got us to sign some official-looking form that said we, the undersigned, wouldn’t sue anybody, including, presumably Glenn and each other.

Ah, this Age of Litigation.

Karen, bless her, provided, as always, scones and coffee or tea just when we need them most.

Ah, we also live in an Age of Generosity. Thanks, Karen, for your Thanksgiving giving.

Even a nasty flu couldn’t keep Don away this year. The sides of his safari cap’s brim snapped smartly in place, he always carries a leach with a dog or two attached.

Dogs on the hike are as inevitable as Turkey on the table. I counted four (dogs, not turkeys) on this particular hike.

Dog story: Yesterday we came across a fenced, madly barking dog who thought we all wanted to invade and pillage his yard. He yapped right up against his chain-linked fence as we grew every closer along our path. When we reached him, a fearless member of our canine contingent calmly walked up to the fence to where the yapper’s nose was sticking through, lifted a leg, anointed the hound’s snout and walked on as calmly as if nothing had happened. The fenced dog instantly fell silent and just stared at us in stunned respect.)

When stories aren’t materializing along the way, we tell them. Don often relates his latest effort to keep a trail open here or to remove a visual obstruction there. We “old-timers” point out slide sites from the storm of 1996.

Talk inevitably turns to Thanksgiving and family and friends who will join us at the feast later in the day. Somebody usually remarks, half in truth, that we hike to “make room” for the food.
I never, not once, have I hiked far enough. It must have to do with Karen's scones.

Our Thanksgiving morning hike has become a tradition within the Thanksgiving tradition. God willing, we will meet again at 9 a.m. at the Hillsdale Oak, at the entrance to Wilson High School, on Nov. 26, 2009.

Rain or shine.

Plan to join us.

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