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The Hawk's Nest

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The Hawk's Nest

Intention and an adventuring spirit

Years ago, I heard there was a trail up the mountain south of Round Lake, sometimes called heart attack hike. Finally, we were going to get to the top of it.


Starting the day meant taking the well-maintained trail out of the state park around the lake. It is one of our favorite short hikes. Hiking through cedar groves and wetlands, along the lakeshore and past beaver activity, it gives us a good dose of nature without much effort. It was the day to leave that trail and take a chance on that heart attack—we were not very worried.


The trail follows an old road for a while and we understood it would pass a trailhead that would let us challenge our coronary strength. We could not find any sign of a trail; still our intention was to have a fun day hiking someplace we had never been.


We hiked through a valley along a small stream with occasional ponds surrounded by skunk cabbage and ferns. Wetlands surrounded by cottonwood and birch flanked the path.


As we walked, we talked about a change coming in our life. Linda’s daughter and son-in-law are expecting in December. We have noticed our attention has shifted a bit. We seem to notice baby stuff a lot. I found myself checking out some cool rocking animals created by a local woodworker. Normally, I am only looking at his furniture and wood sculptures. Linda bought some onesies at a yard sale the other day—I didn’t know what they were. And I find myself wondering what it’ll be like to be a grandfather.   


After following the road for nearly an hour, we were wondering about the trail. The sounds of Highway 95 and the BNSF railroad were penetrating into the sounds of the forest where we walked, but no sign of a trail.


Finally, Linda said, “This looks like a good place to start up.” Even though it looked just like the last mile or so, she was right. We had intended to hike to the top of the mountain and why should we not, just because we couldn’t find the track.


Now, as we talk about things that need to be finished around the house, baby proofing comes up more and more, and Linda wants her own camera.


But last week, the task at hand was to pick our way over blow downs and through brush, taking an ascent that was not marked, as we talked about how our attention had changed some while our intention, for the day, was still focused on making the top of this hill. Even with our focus on the top, we weren’t seeing any trails, but we did create our own way to the top.


We stopped for a bite to eat on a small bench in the hill. Linda sat on a rock in the shade, our dog Nikki beside her. I wandered around looking for a way off the bench that took us closer the top. We didn’t want to go back the way we came. We had climbed up a steep, rock-covered east face to get to where we were only to find the same down on the west. After some exploring, I found a small saddle, which would take us to the main mountain.


While crossing the saddle Nikki found a small, slime-covered wetlands pond and waded in. We had tried to give her fresh water at our stop, but she would not take it, now she was drinking green, murky water.


There is quite a sense of personal satisfaction when, even though there have been some roadblocks in the way, you can find a way to accomplish your intention. I don’t remember who said it, but the quote stated how scientists can only be successful through their failures. How many of us have been taught that it is okay to fail? I, for one, have learned a lot over the years.


As we came down off the hill, we took a break under a big grandfather tree. To me, they represent old, loving energy.; energy that provides support for younger growth with its shade and the way it blocks the wind and weather.


I have learned of cultures who bestow the title Grandfather on anyone who shows high spiritual wisdom. It may not be an elder male, but a female or child could be given the title.


I began to think again about being a grandfather, wondered if I could live up to those traits—either grandfather tree, or Grandfather. There doesn’t seem to be a direct route, a trail or any directions at all.


Maybe that is not a valid concern. Could I be underestimating myself? I had no problem heading up a hill without a trail, only an intention to have a good day. A day of hiking where we had never been before, a day that may or may not have included reaching the top of the hill. It came to me that it is important for me to take that adventuring spirit into this new era of my life.


The path for me will be an intention to love unconditionally, without knowing what or how, which will help me serve this child as a grandfather or as Grandfather.


That is the gift I can give to this child, and the child’s gift to me will be this process.

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

Tagged as:

hiking, Round Lake, grandchildren, grandparents

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