Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One Small Step

July 21 1969 Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon and his words "One small step for man, one giant step for mankind" are among the most quoted words in America.  On that day my daughter was just seven months old. We didn't have a television so along with friends went over to the math department at the USNA where my husband was an instructor.  We gathered around a black and white TV screen, entranced, amazed, excited. At the very moment that Armstrong took his first step - my daughter crawled for the first time. Still not sure which action gave me the greatest thrill!

That baby has grown up to be a fine woman - mother of two rambunctious boys, active in her community, an Arizona Superior Court Commissioner.  Spending this last weekend hiking with her I reflected on  the privilege of giving birth, raising children in a free society.  I read a NYT article about child brides in Afghanistan, at the punishments meted out to children who attempt to escape marriage to older men, who are beaten, killed, by their own fathers, brothers. I count my blessings on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.

I support the work of the likes of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn  who in their book, Half the Sky, document the plight of women worldwide; of Greg Mortenson and his mission to educate girls; my daughter-in-law, Annie Wallace  working in Ethiopia on issues related to women's health. I think of all the small steps taken daily to bring about change in attitudes towards women.

Small steps aside, Lisa and I embarked on two ambitious hikes this weekend in the Escudilla Wilderness of north eastern Arizona. We joined hikes lead by The White Mountain Conservation League. What fun we had and oh my aching calves! First day we headed up towards the Escudilla lookout through groves of newly green aspen trees.  We cut off, contouring a grass covered ridge line over Profanity Ridge topping off at an elevation of 10,600 feet  for spectacular views stretching all the way to Mount Graham, the Chiricahuas, and the Catalina's that are my backyard in Tucson.  We scrambled down Crankshaft Hill ( a seated position part of the time - I'm not proud!) and into the woody shelter of Tool Box Draw to follow the creek back to the road. Profanity Ridge, Crankshaft Hill, Tool Box Draw - all names given by the Forest Service in the early days of managing this land.

Monday's hike, according to the memo was  far less ambitious - a stroll. Hah! We took the boys and dogs and bushwhacked to a "two-track" - a disused logging road - to  spectacular sandstone bluffs and from there picked up another old trail down to Paddy Creek. Along the way the boys picked up a bleached jawbone from an elk; a fellow hiker pointed out lion tracks;  we heard stories of the days when this area was one of the most heavily logged forests in the US.

Purpose of the two hikes was not only recreational but also to continuing taking small, citizen lead  steps toward encouraging the Forest service to declare more of these precious lands as Wilderness Areas.  I was surprised to learn that the Forest Service has an almost philosophical antipathy towards designating Wilderness Areas - conflicts with their training/mission to "manage" the forests as opposed to letting them be wild.

(Lisa took the really pretty photos! including this one of a stunning aspen grove.)

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