Who are the Mazamas, you may ask? And what’s BCEP, you may enquire? Well, let me fill you in dear reader. When I first moved to Oregon, I pretty quickly heard about a mountaineering group in town called The Mazamas.
Similar to the AMC back in Boston, they teach classes and do conservation outreach projects. Over the years, I’d interacted with them tangentially – attending a few classes, volunteering with a few groups, but I’d never been able to actually take a course officially. I’d applied to their Advanced Rock climbing class, but wasn’t accepted for one reason or another.
Now, nearly seven years after first moving to Oregon, I was trying again. This time beginning at the bottom – while you may notice that I’m not quite a beginner when it comes to the outdoors, I was tired. These last few years haven’t been easy, and I was just tired of fighting… the chance to just sit back and meet new people while enjoying a few group hikes was more than worth the price of admission.
No, really, this isn’t an April Fools joke.
Yes, I know that Mt. Tabor is only like… a single square mile. And it’s in the middle of the city. And I had a clear map that I’d printed out earlier.
But you know what?
The whole fun of BCEP for me is to practice things… Some of them I’ve learned before, but haven’t used in ages. So today, I was orienteering! Reviewing my old land navigation skills, and pulling out that compass that’s been hanging in my room for years.
I met up with two of the group assistants in the morning, relaxing in the sun by one of the reservoirs at Mt. Tabor. The weather report hadn’t been perfect, but the day had come through with shining (literally) colors… Breaking beautifully warm and bright, with more flowers blooming than I could have imagined.
We hopped to it, working our way through the land-navigation packet one step at a time. We didn’t rush, but didn’t slouch either… Both of my companions being amazingly supportive and fun, letting me take the lead and helping me work through the process using my older model compass. I can’t even remember when I bought this compass, but it’s one of the old-style Lensatic Compasses – no magnetic declination setting or anything, so I had to manually adjust the declination reading every time… which isn’t really that hard, but I did get mixed up a few times due to the negative modifier for Oregon…
Anyways, my inability to do math aside, we had a great time. We walked through the steps, chatted a lot, and enjoyed a perfect walk in the park. Smelled the flowers, took in the sunlight, and… just appreciated.
After finishing up, we parted ways. They headed out, and I took a bit of a walk around… just relishing the chance to stretch my legs and enjoy the spring weather. I even stopped by the garden shop on the way home, picking up (possibly too many) new plants for the balcony!
It’s been a rough few years, but simple and fun trips like this are helping me feel some confidence in the world ahead. I think it’s going to be pretty excellent.