I was at a retirement village near Seattle to talk a bit about the overall agony of writing tales and to read a bit from my story about the Olympics and the North Pacific Coast. It was a gray rainy day, everything was dark, and the crowd was as small as could be – one person. In the end I got much more out of the session than she did, I am sure, for as we talked she told me a bit of her story. She had grown up near Seattle, the daughter of a halibut and crab fisherman. Her father had come to the United States in 1947 after spending time in the Norwegian resistance during the war. He had been in the 1936 Olympics as a boxer, for Norway. Once in the PNW he went to sea, fished, and raised his family. His daughter, currently struggling with melanoma but carrying on, had spent time working in schools as a teacher’s aide and knew better than most how difficult 13 year old girls can be (like the hero of my tale Strong Heart). She told me that when younger she had done her share of hiking and once gone into the Olympics herself, for four days, as a young woman with a group, hiking “over Little Hump and Big Hump to camp.” That’s along the Duckabush River, and exactly where I was last hiking last summer. In the end I gave her the book I had been reading from, because she seemed interested in the tale, and because after hearing her story I determined I had gained more than she had from the exchange.
Duckabush River summer 2016 just above Five Mile Camp: