Note: The following story took place during my 2011 thru hike of the Pacific Northwest Trail. The Tungsten Mining cabins are situated in Washington’s Pasayten Wilderness.
After a long day’s walk in the rain, I arrived at the Tungsten Mining camp cold and wet.
I wasn’t really expecting to see anyone, so I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed there was a fire going in the upper cabin. My joy increased exponentially when a man popped his head out and invited me in for a cup of tea and some dinner.
Gerry had been coming up to these century old cabins since he was a kid. He told me that his father had helped to renovate them after they had been neglected for decades. He had a house in the town of Oroville, but liked to spend as much time as possible up in the mountains.
Over numerous cups of herbal tea and a very welcome hot meal, our conversation drifted from the weather and local history to philosophical matters and questions of faith. It turned out that Gerry was a “First Century Christian”, a group that derives its beliefs from the “original” teachings of Christ as documented by first century scholars.
When I told him I had never heard of this particular denomination of Christianity, he replied with a wry grin: “I’m not surprised; there’s only three or four of us out there.”
Far from being a zealot, Gerry was quite open minded in regards to different faiths and belief systems. He was particularly interested in my journeys through the Himalaya and the Middle East, where I had spent time at numerous monasteries (Coptic Christian & Buddhist) between 1995 and the present day.
The hours flew by as we chatted away. Eventually weariness began to overtake me (“hiker midnight” is generally considered to be around 9pm 😉 ) and I took my leave.
I shuffled through the rain down to the lower cabin. As I spread out my ground sheet (a piece of Tyvek I had found at a construction site) and lay down to sleep, I couldn’t help but smile.
Do you ever get the feeling that life is just one long series of reminders?
Meeting Gerry was just the latest memorandum from the universe. A timely reminder that it was the people as much as the places, the serendipitous encounters as much as the jaw dropping vistas, that have marked my journeys as memorable over the years.