Sunday, November 15, 2009

Let Bylaws Be Bylaws

Returned last Wednesday from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference in San Diego from November 7-11 at the Marriott Hotel and Marina (above and below, left), where there was a variety of things to see and do. Some of it even had to do with the conference. Generally, I was there -- with apologies to L. Frank Baum, author of "The Wizard of Oz -- "to confer, converse and otherwise hobnob" with my fellow public relations practitioners.

Actually, however, a lot of it involved work as an assembly delegate representing the Greater Oregon Chapter of PRSA and the North Pacific District of PRSA, where I have served as chair for the last two years. The Greater Oregon Chapter of PRSA is my local chapter based in Eugene-Springfield, but includes members from as far away as Corvallis, Bend and Ashland. The North Pacific District has 16 chapters in eight states ranging from Alaska to Utah, and (as ZZ Top would sing) "all points in between."

The assembly itself is a cadre of PRSA leaders from the national board to chapter assembly delegates who collectively govern the society: a congress of leadership, if you will. And, as in the U.S. Congress, debate can be widely divergent and -- at times -- quite lively.

Even in down years, the assembly will provide great theatre and contentious debate among delegates.

At times, the PRSA assembly reminds me of a scene from the John Ford classic "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," starring John Wayne, James Stewart and Lee Marvin: the nominating convention sequence in the Shinbone Saloon.

You know, wild and wooly.

Assembly is always a long day ranging in length from 8-10 hours depending on what's on the menu that particular year.

The year's assembly featured a complete rewrite of the society's bylaws, which were sorely outdated. From the start I expected trouble: the rabble rousers were out in force.

Before the conference, I received a long, rambling voicemail from Jack O'Dwyer, editor of a newsletter that focuses on public relations and marketing communications. O'Dwyer, a longtime thorn in the side of PRSA, described himself as a "reporter" who is "covering PRSA." "I want to help your cause, " he pleaded, noting that he is attempting to "stop the juggernaut."

"We're not going to hurt you" he added, which for some reason didn't sound very reassuring. Needless to say, I didn't return his call. Take a gander of the interview of Jack at the conference at http://www.propenmic.org/video/dna13-interviews-jack-odwyer.

A keynote speaker, Todd Buchholz (former White House director of economic policy) later referred to the "vigilante" concept in popular culture -- i.e. "Batman" and "Spiderman" -- when conventional leadership (cops) loses credibility with its constituents (citizens). O'Dwyer is a vigilante without a clue, and certainly no constituency.

But despite the potential for a verbal donnybrook at assembly, PRSA Chair Michael Cherinson and the national board -- with the help of a quality parliamentarian -- did a good job of keeping the discussion focused as we weathered a litany of amendments.

Surprisingly, the process was expeditious and -- though it was challenging for me to keep track of the UO-Stanford game on ESPN Gametracker with my iPhone -- we could have wrapped things up by 5 p.m. if it weren't for a few long-winded blow-hards and malcontents at the end. As it was, we adjourned at 6 p.m.

After assembly, I had dinner with a number of my colleagues from the North Pacific District PRSA at Roy's, a Hawaiian-themed restaurant.

The rest of the conference focused on keynote speakers (this year's conference included Arianna Huffington of "The Huffington Post," one of the most successful news and opinion websites, and Buchholz), professional development seminars, vendor exhibition (where I enjoyed the lively strains of a delightful mariachi band, above), social activities and, of course, more meetings.

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) annually holds its conference in conjunction with the PRSA confab, so as professional advisor for the University of Oregon chapter, I hung out with five e-board members of that group, all former or current students of mine. We dined together on Saturday night at de'Medici's, an Italian restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter of old San Diego.

On Sunday, it was more meetings and sessions, followed by an extravaganza on the USS Midway, the longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century. The ship is a floating museum, complete with flight simulators and other interactive displays and exhibits.

At the dinner/social held on the flight deck of the massive ship, I reconnected with two former students now gainfully employed as public relations professionals.

On Monday, it was more professional development sessions, including a discussion of social media and how it applies to public relations. I believe that social media sites like My Space, Facebook and Twitter have true business applications, but it's still in the "wild west" stage of development, with more to come. It does have drawbacks. I like to say: "Welcome to My Face, where the seemingly significant can be significantly inane."

My last two days in San Diego were low key: I saw my niece, Nicole Mitchell (oldest daughter of my brother, Richard), a graduate student in speech therapy at San Diego State University, and generally enjoyed the sunshine while grading papers near the pool (below).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Couple Of Eightballs

Hung out at Owl Farm from October 7-11 celebrating "port season" and fall colors.

Saw friend Kelly Tjaden (left, with Owsley), who was starting a part-time gig at High Camp, a nearby backcountry outpost adjacent to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. As Kelly emerged from yet another wilderness excursion, we couldn't miss the opportunity for a "Dirty Face" pizza at Headwaters Inn near Lake Wenatchee.

The Headwaters Inn, a rustic bar located on a flood plain, is a popular watering hole adjacent to Lake Wenatchee State Park, Nason Creek and the Wenatchee River.

Kelly and I shot a couple of games of "stick" while we waited for our pizza. Though not very practiced, both of us are decent at pool. We each won one game when the other scratched on the final shot on the eightball, so we must not be as good as we think.

On Friday, Kelly went back to High Camp for the night while I cut firewood at Owl Farm. We have what amounts to a two-acre woodland -- in various stages of growth and decay -- that includes a variety of conifers, including douglas fir, lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, western red cedar, western white pine, grand fir (also known as "white fir"), engelmann spruce and western hemlock.

My favorite firewood is lodgepole pine, followed by "doug fir." Both have good BTU values (British Thermal Units, a measurement of energy potential) and lodgepole is exceedingly aromatic.

As you might expect, we have slash piles to burn in the fall, and friends Roger Wallace, Chuck and Jackie Ferguson helped us burn a pile on Saturday while we listened to the UO Ducks play the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, October 10.

Afterward, we went down to our beach at the junction of the Wenatchee and Chiwawa (below) Rivers, followed by a potluck party at Dave Wiley's house across the Wenatchee River from Owl Farm, where we had the opportunity to visit with old friends Roger Ross, John Squadroni and many other local denizens of Plain.

Of course, a fall trip to the Wenatchee Valley is not complete without a stop at Prey's Fruit Barn in Leavenworth for some gravenstein and golden delicious apples on my way back to Oregon.

On Saturday, October 24, Rebecca and I traveled up I-5 to Seattle for the annual Duck-Husky football fracas. We left Eugene at 6:30 a.m. and arrived at the city limits of Seattle at 11 a.m., making pretty good time on an early Saturday morning. However, as soon as we hit Seattle the traffic slowed to a crawl. Good thing we left when we did, because after finding a parking space on the west side of the UW campus and hiking over the hill at Montlake, we arrived at Husky Stadium about two minutes before kick-off.

It was a good day for football, partly cloudy with many bright moments of warm sunshine. Looked to be about 10,000 Duck fans in attendance, a good showing. Trust me, decent weather is typically uncommon for this game in late October. Usually, it's wet and cold, with a stiff wind coming off Lake Washington.

The Huskies took a quick lead with a field goal and led at the end of the first quarter 3-0.

But in the second quarter, a Duck receiver blocked a Husky punt for a UO touchdown, and you could feel the air being sucked out of the stadium.

The collective group of some 57,000 Dawg fans grew quiet, and the rout was on. By halftime, the score was 15-6 with the Ducks on top.

In the third quarter, the Webfoots rattled off 21 straight points and -- for all intents and purposes -- the game was over. Seems like we were high-fiving all around every few minutes in the second half. Final score: Ducks 43, Dawgs 19.

After the game, Rebecca and I had a very pleasant walk through the University of Washington grounds, a beautiful campus with numerous classic buildings, on the way to our parking spot near University Avenue. 'Twas a beautiful fall day in Seattle.

And a great "Rock-tober" in the State of Washington.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Seoul Sensation, 9/12-24, 2009: Denouement

Despite a somewhat rocky start, I had a great experience during my two weeks in Seoul, South Korea.

Initially intimidated by the sheer welter of humanity in Seoul, I vanished into my hotel room, suffering from jet lag for the first 24 hours. Once I recovered and got the hang of the place, I was fine.

Spent four days with my daughter Gina, who is teaching English in Busan, a city located on the opposite side of South Korea. Busan is about 150 miles from Seoul, so Gina took the two-hour ride on the high-speed "bullet train" to Seoul.

Enjoyed dinner with recent UO School of Journalism and Communication graduates Branden Johnson and Bryan Saxton. Both are also teaching English in South Korea.

My lecture on healthcare public relations to a class of about 80 aspiring Korean public relations students at Sogang University went very well. As previously noted in these pages, the students were polite, attentive and inquisitive, with excellent questions.

Many thanks to my friend and colleague Dr. Kyu Ho Youm for helping arrange the opportunity.

Here are a few quick impressions of Korea:

The Korean people -- a delightful and attractive lot -- are wonderful, but the contradictions are readily apparent: traditional yet modern, reserved yet aggressive. Their voices are soft but their horns are loud. They even have a cold soup that's hot (spicy).

Speaking of food, Korean grub is -- by and large -- delicious. I personally don't like kim chee (a Korean favorite), mostly because it's basically cabbage, but many others do. But watch out for "American food" in Korea. It might look American, but it's not even close.

Cab drivers in Seoul vary widely.

Deluxe (black cabs) taxi drivers are slow, scheming, expensive and devious. They take their sweet time to get you where you need to go so they can receive a larger fare.

Economy (grey cabs) taxi drivers are wild and crazy -- moving briskly while weaving through traffic. But they get you where you need to be safely -- with more personality for a lot less won.

The air in Seoul was generally smoggy, at least in September. Compares with L.A. In the spring, the city is clouded with a yellow dust from the deserts of China. Most of the time, you can smell the sewers, much like in downtown Philadelphia.

The numerous unique bridges over the Han River are beautifully designed. Of the Westerners I saw in Korea, most are pukes who won't even look you in the eye. Not sure why.

Koreans are consistent in at least one way. Many carry their umbrellas no matter what the weather -- to protect themselves from the rain or the hot sun.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Namsan Mountain

Namsan (South Mountain), located near my hotel in Myeong-dong, is accessible by many different points of departure in the city of Seoul.

Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, N' Seoul Tower -- located on the summit of Namsan -- became a symbol of Seoul when it was constructed as a broadcasting transmission tower in 1969.

When it first opened for public access, Namsan became a popular place for locals to hike and relax, with an outstanding 360 degree panorama from the mountain's peak. During the busy season, over 30,000 people visit Namsan.

On weekends, Namsan features a wide array of exhibits, and both performing arts and visual art displays -- like this human figure constructed of chicken wire (right).

The easiest and most scenic route to the base of the tower is by cable car. Daytime views are great when the sky isn't filled with smog or yellow dust, and the evening views are outstanding.

Namsan is one of two of the best places to appreciate the megalopolis of the Greater Seoul Metropolitan Area.


Seodaemun Prison

Within the Seodaemun Independence Park lies a prison constructed to house Korean independence fighters during the Japanese occupation between 1910 and 1945.

Seodaemun Prison, which includes seven separate prison buildings, features nightmarish punishment chambers and claustrophobic cellblocks. To add to the realism of this grotesque site, the prison has life-size Korean and Japanese figures complete with fake blood, ear-piercing screams and ingenious torture techniques.

The park also includes the Independence Movement Gate and Museum, the Martyrs' Tower and the March 1st Independence Movement Tower.

Seodaemun Prison is simultaneously interesting, barbaric, compelling and gruesome: not a pretty sight.


Seoul Grand Park

Opened in 1984, Seoul Grand Park now features one of the world's ten largest zoos. Set among the forested hillsides south of the city, a river runs through the park, and families picnic on its shady banks.

The zoo is home to numerous exotic creatures, including the most popular Asian and African varieties, and has a long list of breeding successes, including tigers and panda bears.

The facility, which compares favorably with large zoos in the United States, features cranes, swans, pelicans and other large birds. Ants and swimming beetles are on display in a "miniature creature" exhibit.

One of the highlights of the zoo is an elaborate "dolphin show" (right). The many facilities here also include a tropical greenhouse for flowers (bottom), a reservoir and walking trails. The indoor botanical garden houses a forest of cacti, numerous orchids and carnivorous pitcher plants.

Visitors who would prefer to ride rather than walk can take a tram that provides a stunning view of Seoul Grand Park.

"Seoul Land" possesses over 40 amusement park rides, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art holds ongoing exhibits. The latest addition to the complex is the National Gwacheon Science Research Center.

With -- really -- too much to see in merely one day, the facility is truly a "grand park."


Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gina (above) arrived at my hotel in Myeong-dong from Busan late on Thursday, September 17. She took an extra day off from her rigorous schedule teaching English to young Korean students, stretching her weekend to three days so that we could do a bit of sightseeing in Seoul together. First stop: Gyeongbokgung Palace.

At one time, the Gyeongbokgung Palace was likely a place of pomp and circumstance.

Today, the uniformly brown buildings with a dirt compound in front may leave visitors with the impression that the site is undergoing restoration work.

The Gyeongbokgung Palace was the country's principal royal residence until the compound was destroyed in 1592 during war with Japan.

However, it was not the Japanese who razed the palace but the citizens of Seoul.

As the Japanese marched across the country, the king and yangban (aristocrats) abandoned the city to save their own hides.

Angered by the desertion, a mob of local residents burned down the palace.

Gyeongbokgung lay in waste for nearly 300 years until it was rebuilt it 1865.

Today, Gyeongbokgung Palace has been restored to its former glory. Adjacent to the palace, the Seoul Museum of History provides visitors with an overview of Seoul's history and traditional culture.

A ceremonial changing of the guard (below) occurs several times a day, so clearly the pomp and circumstance has returned to Gyeongbokgung Palace.


Sogang University

On Wednesday, September 16, I hopped a cab to Sogang University for my lecture on healthcare public relations to a class of about 80 aspiring Korean public relations students.

The opportunity to lecture was facilitated by my colleague Dr. Kyu Ho Youm, a Korean native who is Professor and First Amendment Chair at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

Founded in 1960 by the Society of Jesus, the mission of Sogang University is to provide students with an education based in Catholic belief and inspired by the Jesuit educational philosophy in conformity with the Korean educational tradition.

The university, with a 50-acre campus located in east-central Seoul, has an enrollment of over 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students and nearly 1,000 faculty members.

Arrived at Sogang University early and I'm glad I did: it took me a little while to get my bearings. Dr. Hochang Shin, a friend and colleague of Dr. Youm's, was my host.

Meeting with several of Dr. Shin's teaching assistants (from left, Jihana Ko, Min-young Kim and Yeon Ji Noh), we proceeded to a nearby classroom where I delivered my lecture.

Had a delightful time discussing healthcare public relations: his students were attentive and inquisitive, and Dr. Shin was very gracious.

Turns out I didn't need an interpreter; they all understood English fairly well.

After my lecture, I opened the floor to questions and several students responded with great inquiries.

One of my favorites was the student who asked: "will there always be issues for healthcare public relations professionals to deal with?"

I explained to her that -- based on my experience -- yes. To quote Roseanne Roseannadanna on Saturday Night Live, "it's always somethin'."

Whether it's AIDS, West Nile Virus, H1N1 -- the list goes on and on -- there will always be a need for effective healthcare communicators: "job security for public relations professionals," I quipped.

Afterward, Dr. Shin treated me a lunch at a fine Korean restaurant across the street from Sogang University. Then, practically before I knew it, I was back in a taxi on my way to my hotel in Myeong-dong.

As I said before, eveything is very much hurry-hurry in these parts.


Monday, September 21, 2009

South Korea: Tiger or Teddy Bear?

Asian tiger, a seriously wired country, or a populace steeped in the morality of Confucianism? All are accurate descriptions of South Korea, yet none of these fully captures the essence of this fascinatingly complex -- yet contradictory -- nation.

Grounded in ancient Confucianism, the history of Seoul can be traced back as far as 18 B.C., when it was first established as a settlement. Of the South Koreans who profess religious beliefs, most are Buddhists or Christians.

Nonetheless, South Korea is definitely a forward-thinking country, thanks to its hurry-hurry approach to almost everything. New York may be the city that never sleeps, but Seoul is the city that never even slows down.

Koreans clearly have a zest for life, and face-to-face, local residents are pleasant and polite. However, on the streets of Seoul, you're on your own. Everybody is in a hurry to get somewhere, both pedestrians and motorists: there's no "stopping to smell the roses."

If I had to sum up South Korea in one word, it would be "dynamic." If I were to use two words, it would be "dynamic and conservative."

Seemingly contradictory, for many Koreans it's simply a matter of yin and yang.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Where The Streets Have No Name

Getting around Seoul can be -- in a word -- confusing, even for foreign travelers who can speak Korean.

One reason for the confusion is simply that Seoul is so big, both in terms of area and population. Lots and lots of urbanites with things to do, places to go and people to see.

Another reason, as U2 (one of my favorite rock bands) sings about on their classic "Joshua Tree" album, is that the streets have no name.

In case you're wondering: no, I'm not kidding. The streets really have no names. Mapquest is of little use. You better know where you are going and be able to explain it to your Korean taxi driver.

Oh, the city of Seoul has directional signage (above), but it doesn't help much. Finding your way around Seoul reminds me of a line from "The Point," an animated story conceived by Harry Nilsson:

"A point in every direction is like no point at all."


Gotta Have Seoul

Arrived in Seoul, South Korea on Sunday, September 13 after a long 14-hour flight from Eugene by way of San Francisco.

Why South Korea, a country I heretofore had no interest or inkling to visit? My purpose was two-fold: visit my daughter Gina, who is teaching English in Busan, and lecture on healthcare public relations at Sogang University, a Jesuit college located in the heart of Seoul.

Seoul is the capital of South Korea, and with a population of over 10 million people, is one of the world's largest cities.

The greater metropolitan area, which includes the major port city of Incheon, has nearly 25 million inhabitants -- making it the second-largest urban area in the world.

Almost half of the total population of South Korea lives in the Greater Seoul Metropolitan Area.

To give you an idea of the population density in this country, South Korea is nearly 39,000 square miles with over 48 million people living within its borders. Oregon, on the other hand, is over 98,000 square miles with a population of not quite 4 million.

Located on the Han River in the center of the Korean Peninsula (top), the city has been an important settlement for over 2,000 years when Baekje -- one of the three kingdoms of Korea -- established its capital in what is now southeast Seoul.

Seoul has one of world's most technologically advanced infrastructures and is often called the "tech capital of the world." Everybody -- and I mean everybody -- has a cell phone.

After arriving in the Incheon International Airport and passing through customs, I took a taxi to the Ibis Myeong-dong Hotel in downtown Seoul -- GonzoPR World Headquarters during my stay in South Korea.

I must admit, it felt a bit like I had just landed on the moon, only there were lots o' people milling about everywhere outside. Soon, I was to take my "giant leap" into the city streets of Seoul.


Monday, September 7, 2009

PCT, 8/28-31, 2009: Denouement

All in all, it was a great trip, though in my case, it was more challenging than it needed to be. Many lessons were learned. Losing the sole off my boot two miles into the hike was a bummer (thankfully, I had camp shoes), and my pack was too heavy at 38 pounds. Packing boot goop might have helped, and a lighter pack would certainly have made things easier.

But views like the shot of Mt. Hinman (above, in the background) made up a bit for the occasional misery when I hit the deck to avoid rolling an ankle. Eating huckleberries, ripe and ready-at-hand, also provided some respite and a good excuse to take a break.

Teo (above, resting amongst the yellow aster in Deception Creek) was a great traveling companion: friendly, curious and full of energy. He provided me and many others along the trail with a much-needed "puppy fix," as Lupe would say, for those like myself who need "dog as our co-pilot."

He also provided a wonderful deterrent for bear or any other critters that might get a wee too close to our campsite.

Facing a detour because of a forest fire after passing Cathedral Rock (above) provided an interesting twist that turned out well for everybody. Plus, we had the opportunity to interact with our counterparts 30 years hence, wilderness rangers for the Cle Elum Ranger District (although I don't remember us being that clean cut).

On our way back to Stevens Pass, Roger and I stopped at the 59er Diner near Lake Wenatchee for a hamburger: needless to say, it was "dee-lish." When we reached Stevens Pass, I spotted our friends from Cathedral Pass coming down off the PCT, so we pulled over and greeted them. "What took you so long," I joked.

Well, that's about it. I'm pleased to report that REI provided me with a $210 credit for a new pair of boots, and the friendly clerk noted that I should be in their "hall of fame."

So, from Owl and 'Roo (below), happy trails to you.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

PCT, Day 4: Smelling The Barn

Thinking I had already witnessed the ultimate "melodies in nature" experience at Cathedral Creek, I was treated to yet another "symphony" on the morning of Monday, August 31 at our camp in Waptus Pass (above).

As I lay waking up pre-dawn, a variety of birds broke into song -- each chirping their own tune in concert with the other, with percussion provided by a woodpecker -- a wondrous melody. By the time the sun had lit the pass, the concert was over.

As we packed camp, we bade farwell to "Shootout," another PCT hiker who shared our campsite in Waptus Pass. Most long-range hikers on the PCT adopt pseudonyms during their trek; some of the more creative examples included "Banshee," "Salty," "Two Shoes," "Blister Butt," "Flicker," "Muleskinner," "Ice Cap," "Freebee," "Moondog" and "Mr. Zip." Kelly, Lupe and I had adopted ""Midweek," "Eight" and "Laslo," respectively, as our PCT pseudonyms.

So far, we had seen small critters like squirrels, pica and marmot, along with many types of birds. However, the only large mammal we encountered was this wilderness troll with an affinity for rock 'n' roll (left) along the Pete (Townshend) Lake Trail.

Despite the smokey air from the Lemah Fire in Waptus Pass, I could nonetheless "smell the barn," that unmistakeable sense of anticipation that I would soon be back at Owl Farm.

Heading down toward Pete Lake from Waptus Pass, I felt renewed vigor, anxious to emerge from the wilderness, but delighting in it nonetheless. We paused to examine the fungi patterns on an old Douglas fir stump (right and below).

Now on a flat trail, my pace quickened. Knowing Roger, he would be arriving earlier than the predetermined 2 p.m. We arrived at the Pete Lake Trailhead at Cooper Lake at 1 p.m.

Roger wheeled in at 1:15 p.m. and asked: "need a ride?" "Boy, are you a sight for sore feet," I replied.

Fetching Kelly, Lupe and Teo from Cooper Lake, we packed our gear into Roger's vehicle for the ride along the "alternate PCT," a pair of Forest Service roads leading to the Mineral Creek Trailhead in the upper Cle Elum River drainage. There, we temporarily said our goodbyes.

For me, it was time to "head for the barn" at Owl Farm.


PCT, Day 3: Fire On The Mountain

When I awoke early the next morning to take a few pictures (feeling better than I'd felt in days, I might add), I could hardly believe my eyes: the delightfully melodic stream known as Cathedral Creek had totally vanished!

Oh, the stream bed and little sandy beach were still there, but not a lick of water remained. Incredulous, we packed up our camp and continued down the trail toward Snoqualmie Pass.

The day before, we heard rumors of a fire on the Pacific Crest Trail from hikers heading north, though few had any specific details. That morning, however, we smelled the unmistakeable aroma of smoke from a forest fire. Passing hikers confirmed our suspicions.

The Lemah Fire, caused by lightning strikes in late July, had spread from 30 to 600 acres. The blaze had been whipped up by winds from the storm front over the Cascades on Friday, August 28. As a result, word on the trail was that a 20-plus mile of the PCT was now closed and an alternative route established, with wilderness rangers patrolling the access points to make sure that hikers used the detour.

Nonplussed, we continued on through Cathedral Pass where we witnessed incredible views of Cathedral Rock (above) and Mt. Daniel and Deep Lake (below). Though we could smell smoke, the Lemah Fire had yet to disrupt the stunning alpine perspectives. Once we passed Deep Lake, however, the smoke grew thicker.

Passing hikers informed us that a wilderness ranger was waiting for southbound hikers at the junction of the PCT and Spinola Creek, where a detour would take us down the creek from the PCT to Waptus Lake. The detour would then direct us over Waptus Pass, down to the Pete Lake Trail and out to the road at Cooper Lake. After another 15 miles of Forest Service Road to the Mineral Creek trailhead, the detour would connect back with the PCT about 12 miles north of Snoqualmie Pass.

Pondering my options, I thought about walking so far -- with full pack and cheap tennis shoes -- on hard road just to catch the last few miles of PCT. I knew that Kelly and Lupe would continue through the detour to their cabin at Snoqualmie Pass, but this would be my opportunity to make something happen for the betterment of all.

As we huddled with the wilderness ranger over a set of maps, I asked if he could convince the Cle Elum Ranger District dispatcher to put in a call for me. "Certainly," he replied, so I had him relay a message to my friend Roger Wallace -- retired Fire Management Officer on the Leavenworth Ranger District -- to pick us up at the Pete Lake Trailhead at Cooper Lake.

The reply came swiftly: Roger would pick us up at Cooper Lake on Monday, August 31 at 2 p.m., the dispatcher reported. We continued down Spinola Creek to Waptus Lake, crossed the Waptus River (Kelly and I in bare feet, Lupe with a new pair of crocs) and climbed the numerous switchbacks up to Waptus Pass, where we established our camp for the night.