Friday, January 17, 2014
Reading Bob Welch
Last night reminded me why Bob Welch is one of my favorite Oregon authors. I finished reading Cascade Summer, and you guys, I cried.
I never expected to cry over a book about hiking in what is essentially my own backyard. I mean, I've been to some of the lakes they camped at, and have walked some of the same trails. Crying over a book about hiking and backpacking? Who does that?
I'll tell you who, anyone who reads Cascade Summer and has a heart. The book is about so much more than hiking. It's about an adventure. Chasing a dream. Reaching a goal. It's about a decades long friendship between two brothers-in-law. It is about the exhaustion of the journey. It's about the heartache that comes with trials. It is about so much more than camping.
Honestly, I can't believe I didn't read it sooner. Last spring, my sister and I had a chance to hear Welch give a reading at Paulina Springs Books in Redmond. I had met Welch at least once before, and have read some of his other works, including American Nightingale and My Oregon. I bought a copy of Cascade Summer that night. But my sister promptly swiped my book, and I didn't get it back until a month ago. I am so glad I did. In reading Cascade Summer, I often found myself laughing aloud, usually in a coffee shop surrounded by people who most certainly wanted to know what I found so funny. And, as I already admitted, the final pages brought me to tears.
What I really love about it is all the detail on the history of the Pacific Crest Trail that Welch weaves into the story. He introduces his readers to Judge John Breckenridge Waldo. An Oregon judge who spent nearly 30 summers hiking the mountains of Oregon in the late 1800s. He and his partners formed some of the first trails in the Oregon Cascades. It was Waldo who first suggested protecting the range from development, and he persisted in seeing his dream become a reality.
If you love nonfiction. If you love any book that can make you simultaneously laugh and cry. Go get a copy of Cascade Summer. It'll have you itching for June before the book is through. I already have a list of my own hiking and camping destinations inspired by Welch's journey.