Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of what's important.
Answering emails or listening to conference calls is important, but not always inspiring. Recently, I had a chance to get out on a rare sunny Seattle day and visit some SCA members in North Cascades National Park.
Although North Cascades is the least-visited national park in the lower 48, it's hard to imagine why with glacier-carved valleys, old-growth forests, and towering granite peaks I dropped in on five interns performing a range of projects from fire monitoring to habitat restoration, and also checked in with a trail crew. Between visits, I explored a section of Cascade Pass where the crew had been the previous day.
Almost immediately, a black bear lumbered across the path just in front of me. I watched him scamper up a slope and disappear into the thick forest, both of us undoubtedly buzzing with excitement. I proceeded further up the trail, climbing through the dense cedar forest into open alpine slopes of wildflowers, talus and snow.
At the pass, two mountain goats cavorted in the snowfield above me, and I played interpreter for a few delighted but curious families. All too soon, it was time to race down the switchbacks to meet the SCA crew and Mike Brondi, their park supervisor.
Mike is a local legend as he has been working alongside SCA crews for many years. When I mentioned my bear sighting, he grew still for a moment, though genuinely happy. "When you see a bear," he said, "it means that you're living your life in a good way because you're putting yourself in the right kind of places."
Mike went on to explain "how much my own life is enriched by the opportunity to work with the young people from SCA."
It occurred to me that this day had captured many of the reasons why I am part of the SCA community: partnerships with land managers, camaraderie borne through trail work in a wild and remote place, close encounters with the natural world, and seeing communities (both human and animal) benefitting from the direct work that SCA is doing to conserve wild places.
That is what I will try to remember when the phone rings for my next conference call.
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