Notes from Colleen’s Desk: “Gliking” Pipe Dreams

There is something incredibly liberating in letting go of your plan. No fuss, you flex instead and simply go with the flow. Even more freeing, is skipping the shower for seven days and having just one outfit. No hairbrush in the backpack either. Too much transparency? Rest assured– I did carry my toothbrush and dental floss.

What was to be a 6-day backpacking adventure in Central Oregon a few weeks ago, was still adventurous. It was just a bit more glamorous than what my hiking partner and I have become accustomed to in our ten years of long wilderness walks.

Our normal schtick would be to arrive at a trailhead, hike 8-10 miles to our first destination, set up our tents, and then blissfully enjoy our yummy jet boil dinner. Then we would pour over our trail maps and climb into our snuggly sleeping bags with a book by 7 pm. Same story for the next 4-5 consecutive days.

This “backpacking” trip was just not going to happen as planned from the get-go. When I arrived at the trailhead to meet her and leave my car for my last-day 15-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail, her car battery was dead. Eventually we found a suspecting but kind day tripper who lent us his jumper cables. An hour or so later, we headed to the nearest Les Schwab and had a fabulous lunch in Sisters.

With a delayed start and reports of smoke at our starting trailhead, nearly 2 hours southbound, we checked in at the ranger station for the latest update only to learn that Oregon now requires permits to camp in designated wilderness areas. Say what?

So we pivoted to Plan B. No camping in the wilderness but we could set up a nifty campsite close enough for multiple days in and out instead – no need to pack all that gear. Who wouldn’t want to pack 10-15 pounds less?

But the smoke kept getting thicker as we approached our Plan B destination and we flexed again. More accurately, we literally pulled a U-turn in the road and began formulating Plan C. Bivouacking at Smith Rock State Park it is!

And thus ensued our gliking getaway. Yes, “glamorous hiking” or gliking, while new to us die hard backpackers is a thing.  Turns out that it even holds a spot in in the Urban Dictionary. Who knew that having a table, toilet, potable water, and electrical outlets to charge phones could be so glorious! And just a quarter-mile trek to our fabulous cliff-side happy-tent place (my tent pictured). We loved it!

We do know a great camping spot when we find it, so naturally we stayed a second night to adequately ponder Plan D. Where to next? Doesn’t really matter except to say that letting go of that pre-determined schedule, staying flexible, and rolling with the punches while demonstrating kindness (nope, we did not raise our fists at the rangers), turned into an amazing and restful adventure.

We still joyfully managed to log about 40 miles of hiking.  We found peaceful lakes and clamored around a new peak or two (Mt. Washington pictured) to gain broad perspective. To top it off, we enjoyed fresh smoke-free blue skies.

And how can I not mention and appreciate the moments of amazing life reflection? Such as when the butterfly (pictured) landed on my shoe with its broken wing.  So much brokenness in our world, and yet that beautiful Monarch illustrated for me how we can still rise to the occasion with a resilient spirit and fly high through extraordinary circumstances.  Plans kept changing every day (sound familiar?) and by the time we’d finished up our adventure 5 days later, we were implementing Plan F.

Yet looking back, we wouldn’t have changed a thing. And instead of hiking that waterless PCT section alone through rocky lava fields, as I’d planned, Looky Lou was able to join me in the journey. To celebrate, we stopped for a slice of fresh pie at a resort after picking up my car!

Those who can’t abandon the plan are most likely to get lost, hurt, or possibly die. Extreme adventurers know that staying flexible is key to survival.

Let’s talk plumbing. It’s a tale of my continuing home repair saga. Although it has been an adventure, my galvanized pipes are quite contrary to any notion of flexibility.

You may have read a previous writing or two about my old house. Turns out its nearly 70-year-old galvanized pipes exceeded their usefulness probably 20 years ago. Galvanized piping does not flex! In fact, it gets plugged up in a hurry if you happen to also have lots of minerals in your well water.

One word: calcification. Not even going to illustrate with pictures of what that looks like! Suffice it to say, it has taken out my hot water heater, pressurized water tank, and now numerous plumbing fixtures. And thus, I now get the distinct pleasure of re-piping the whole house with the newest and greatest product – PEX (cross-linked polyethylene). Rhymes with flex, ironically.

And that is my key point – be flexible!!  Resist calcification.

SOREDI has pivoted and relentlessly pursued opportunities to serve businesses in this not-so-flexible economic climate. We’ve had to flex considerably in the last two years while doing our best to stay true to our charter, be transparent, and hold fiercely to best business practices.

In the past week Josephine County, using a portion of their American Rescue Act (ARPA) funds, approved nearly $1 million in new pandemic relief grants to 67 businesses within their county. And the United Rotary Clubs of Southern Oregon has delivered their Back to Work grant checks to numerous fire-impacted small businesses in Jackson County to the tune of over $42,000.

SOREDI continues to assist in vetting applications and more help is on its way with another expected round of Back to Work fire-relief checks going out soon.  Read more about the Rotary effort here: rotaryrebuildssouthernoregon.com. 

This is no time to become calcified like old pipes. We are standing by to provide more grant administration services with as much flexibility, creativity, and collaboration as needed to get the job done for all our partners and jurisdictions. We may need to abandon our carefully planned programs and change course.  To summarize the words of SOREDI Board President Terri Coppersmith, in times of uncertainty, we may need the boldness to see things differently, expand our vision, and take a new path.

That’s exactly what SOREDI has in mind to do – think bigger and broader – as we diligently seek input for a few promising ARPA grant opportunities with the Economic Development Administration. The scope of these efforts will be bigger than anything we’ve considered before. Now is certainly the opportune time to take a different trail or forge a new path.

Our economic recovery and resiliency focus:

  • outdoor trail networks including our regional greenway,
  • development of a Center of Excellence related to forest resiliency, wildfire response, fire tools innovation and technology, and more.

Funny thing – I started out sharing a bit about my odd but joyful liberation from daily routine on the trail – including a shower.  Now it appears, I will be lacking an operating shower at home until after Thanksgiving when my plumbing contractor can actually re-pipe my old house. Say what?

Seems like a great time to take advantage of that gym membership. Maybe I will work out too, while there for my shower. Showers of blessings to all!

Forge a new path!

Colleen Padilla, Executive Director

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