May 2023 Recap
White Pines & The 30 Mile Hike
My May began with the rare work trip. In fact, this was my first trip of official business since the start of the pandemic just over three years ago. It was only a quick dash over to Minneapolis, but the time was special, as I got to meet members of the team I have been virtually working with for over two years now.
In the first half decade of my professional life I romanticized work travel. Jet setting around to do “business” was enjoyable and not at all something I minded. All it took was a single night out of town and I missed all my home comforts and routines that I have fashioned around the work life I love today. I am very much all in on virtual work.
In mid-May a stretch of beautiful weather allowed Shannon and I to continue making significant progress on the landscaping along our southern property line. We planted three young white pine trees (Pinus strobus) that will eventually serve as a new border separating our grassy lawn from the forest growth. Eventually we hope to plant an additional 3-6 more trees to create a pine grove.
We selected white pines for a few reasons. Chiefly that they are stately pines that grow fast, tall, and straight. They do not have the drooping limbs characteristic of many conifers. Their needles are incredibly soft and when they drop they form a soft forest floor bed.
The white pine also has an important historical place in our region of the world. It was given the title of “Tree of Peace” by the Haudenosaunee confederacy. In the 17th centuries it began to be frequently used as a ship mast for both the British Royal Navy and after the Revolutionary War, the United States navy. Henry David Thoreau wrote that “There is no finer tree.” And many people agreed with him – leading to further logging expansion throughout the Midwest in the 19th century.
Today, the white pine is a treasured tree and there are many places where it has special conservation status in protected parks and forests. In case it was not already clear, these white pines are a special addition to our property and in the past couple weeks I have found myself fostering a genuine emotional connection with each of them.
Other landscaping work has continued. We have planted a row of hydrangea bushes in the place where we cleared out the Buckthorn last month.
We surrounded them with a layer of cedar woodchips and relocated a collection of small-medium size rocks from elsewhere on the property to build a wall and create some natural edging.
Over Memorial Day weekend Shannon and I crossed off one of the four quests that I am aiming to accomplish prior to turning 30 this fall.
I wanted to hike 30 miles in a single day.
Shannon and I have knocked off many hikes in that 12-18 mile range. My largest single day output was a 26 mile haul in the Utah backcountry. Not only did miles feel like the right balance of attainable yet challenging – but it fit with the “turning 30” theme.
So at 4am on a Saturday morning we piled into the 4Runner and headed off to the nearby Kettle Moraine forest where a series of trails would give us plenty of options in which to knock out some miles.
12 hours of real time (10 hours 19 minutes of which was spent hiking) we trudged back to the car having surpassed the 30 mile mark and going a wee bit beyond for a 30.61 mile day total.
In the end it did turn out to be challenging but ultimately doable. Our feet in particular felt the burn during the last 5ish miles. And sore legs prevailed for the following 48 hours post hike.
This mini-quest was made all the more special because not only did I get to walk every step with Shannon, but my parents and my parents-in-law also joined us for large stretches of the hike. Which of course resulted in quality time and conversation and made the miles go by just a bit quicker.
Time will tell if next year we feel ambitious enough to try for a 31 mile day.
It was a hot, dry May, with none of the thunderstorms that typically frequent us this time of year.
My favorite book I read in May was Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors by Stephen E. Ambrose. My favorite film I watched in May was Guardian’s of the Galaxy Vol. 3. My full media diet log can be found here.