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The Bluepenciler

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So what’s your favorite day of the week? I bet I can guess. Who doesn’t love Saturday and Sunday, or maybe Friday because it’s the day before Saturday and Sunday? And who would love Monday, or Tuesday for that matter? They begin the work week.

Well, I think Tuesday has become one my favorite days, if not my favorite, though it hasn’t always been so.

At one time Tuesday was at least one of my most interesting days. That was back when I was doing a great deal of the writing, design and layout for this fine little newspaper. I was always thrilled at figuring out how to put all the elements of the paper together to produce something that I hoped would be interesting and enjoyable for the readers and productive for the advertisers. The bulk of that layout work took place on Tuesday in preparation for the press run on Wednesday, which also was one of my favorite days because of the journey up the Clark Fork and Flathead rivers to get the paper printed.

After a few years of every-other-Tuesday layout , which often included all-nighters on Tuesday night because I likely went out to play too much over the preceding Saturday and Sunday, and 350-mile treks every other Wednesday with 6000 papers in the back of my truck, I began to grow weary of the task. And Tuesday became my least favorite day, which meant it was time for a change. I slowly came to recognize that if I was sick and tired of doing the layout then the paper would probably look sick and tired as well; not interesting and enjoyable.

So Trish, bless her heart, took on the Tuesday task of layout, and a great many other tasks as well, I might add, while I have embraced Tuesday in a different way. A couple of weeks ago that meant joining a group of people who hike on Tuesdays, and so loosely refer to themselves as the Tuesday Hikers, for a hike that has helped bring Tuesday back as one of my favorite days of the week.

We tackled Napoleon Gulch, Squaw Peak and Star Gulch in a rather ambitious day-long loop hike that covered 12 or 13 miles and 3800 vertical feet. The day was perfect, the company was eclectic, and the trail was easy to follow. Thanks to permission from a private landowner, we were able to trim five miles or more off the hike by cutting through their property straight to Napoleon Gulch. The trail led us to the top of Pillick Ridge and thence on to the rocky summit of Squaw Peak. 

Forest Service personnel were there opening the lookout in preparation for this summer’s wildfire season in the Cabinets, which is looking pretty safe at the moment. The forest is lush and green and big, deep snowdrifts still linger across the high country. But if you’ve been here very long, you know how July and August, and even September, can be. It doesn’t take but a two or three-week drought to dry us out, a thunderstorm to provide the spark, and suddenly we could be burning like much of the rest of the west.

But on this particular Tuesday all was well in every single possible way it could have been. The Tuesday Hikers are an interesting bunch. I’d say “strange” - in a complimentary sort of way - meaning I had not had such fun hiking with a group since traipsing through the Blue Ridge Mountains with the Royal Ambassadors when I was 12 years old. They didn’t just hike. They laughed, shared stories - many of them about each other - shared food, laughed some more, and generally appreciated the wilderness surrounding us and the company we each found ourselves in for that one delightful day out of an otherwise ordinary week.

At the end of the day, in the shade of a cottonwood, there was homemade beer and champagne to go round, and watermelon slices, as we reminisced about the ten hours that took us from the start of the trail to its finish through some of the best countryside anywhere. And sitting there among some of the best people to be found anywhere, I counted myself fortunate beyond measure to have discovered a new perspective on Tuesday.

Do I regret having passed on the Tuesday task of finalizing the design and layout of this newspaper to someone willing to take it on; and the opportunity for the always-rewarding drive upriver on Wednesday? Yes. And no.

How much luckier could I have been than to have someone like Trish take over my responsibilities, willingly making them her own while I go about the task of collecting my wits about me again? There’s not a Tuesday goes by that I don’t think in my heart how grateful I am for that, but it needs to be said out loud too.

Thanks Trish. See you next Tuesday? Nah, not likely. I may very well be on the trail somewhere with a gaggle of strange, laughing hikers, and I might just be the one laughing loudest of all, because you’ve given me that opportunity.

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Author info

Dennis Nicholls Dennis Nicholls was the founder, publisher, janitor and paperboy of the River Journal from 1993 to 2001. He passed away in 2009.

Tagged as:

editorial, hiking, newspapers, publishing, Tuesday Hikers, Napoleon Gulch, Squaw Peak, Star Gulch

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