Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sauer's Legacy

Sweat It Out

I've never been on a more lupine-filled hike in my life! The wildflowers along Sauer Mountain Trail were in peak bloom and absolutely glorious. The smell alone was incredible; I felt like I could taste their color on my tongue. I've always had a thing for lupines. I have Icelandic ones tattooed on my arm as a remembrance of my trip there. They are beautiful, but they also hold a nostalgic place in my heart. One of my absolute favorite books growing up was The Lupine Lady by Barbara Cooney. It was an artfully illustrated story about a woman named Miss Rumphius who spends the end of her life scattering lupine seeds all over the world. Throughout the book, the author comes back to the same line, this central theme: "You must do something to make the world more beautiful." Miss Rumphius achieved this by bringing the glory of the lupine to as many people as possible. This weekend I met someone who would have made her proud.

Mr. Sauer first started a trail on his private property in 1982. Fast forward three and a half decades; He's still greeting visitors at the trail head every day, helping them park, sharing stories, and answering questions. He whittles walking sticks next to a sleepy pup and grumbles about the neighbors. He even sells his son's homemade wine! Washington Trails Association has started advertising the hike, bringing more visitors (and more complaints from those neighbors) than ever before. What started as a personal project for him has grown into a legacy. He has found a way to leave his mark in nature in a way that respects the land and still manages to service so many people. Coming and going, I heard multiple people thanking him for the gift of this trail and its continued maintenance. Since it begins on his private property, he certainly doesn't have to share it with any of us fellow WA hikers. Yet he does.

The first mile or so of trail is peppered with sculptures, totems, and masks that he has carved and painted. Seems that the man and the mountain are one in the same, an autonomous unit. Passing these  figures and cresting the first ridge, you can turn around to take in bright green, seemingly endless fields of orchard trees below. The wildflowers never stop as you steadily climb a steep but short 3 miles to the 3100 ft peak. Along the way, glacial views of the Cascade mountain ranges are constant. This is the first hike I've done in Washington that felt so strikingly similar to Rainier without being in the national park itself. It is such an incredible gem of a trail. Mr. Sauer told us that the day before our visit, a couple had their wedding at the peak! #GOALS

First hot hike of the year = sweating buckets, constantly reapplying sunscreen, and crazy famished as soon as we finished. Of course Rich and I hit up my very favorite place in Leavenworth, Munchen Haus, for german pretzels, brats, and Raspberry Ale! These pretzels are what dreams are made of. We took a quick detour down Icicle River Road as well to see how the Enchantments were looking as the ice continues to thaw.

Thank you, Mr. Sauer, for your hard work in making the world a more beautiful place. 


Art by Mr. Sauer

So many lupines!

The view from the beginning of the trail, overlooking the orchards below

Wildflower love

Looking out towards Glacier Peak

A muggy, gorgeous day in WA

Orchard Love

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