Hiker Notebooks #11: Gratitude, Part 1

The sentiments that hikers express the most in our hiker notebooks are appreciation and gratitude. We have so many entries that express these feelings that we must write multiple blog posts about them to cover even just the best of those thoughts. This seems to indicate that many, many hikers have the same thoughts as we stewards do toward the trail and the property that it traverses — we love it. And we deeply appreciate what it provides to us in our lives. We’re glad that so many can drink from the same well and get so much back from the experience.

We start this post about gratitude with one of the most direct, and beautifully depicted, sentiments along these lines: “What a Beautiful Day to be Alive!” the hiker exclaims to the world. Take a moment to think about the hiker who paused long enough to inscribe, multiple times, in the same lovely script, those deeply felt words. Many of us have been there as well, but perhaps didn’t take the time to so artfully express our emotions in the notebook. I know I haven’t, but I’ve felt the very same thing.

This next entry spoke to me personally, as my wife and I have daughters whom we raised in Sonoma (yes, we know, “Slownoma” to the younger generations) and went off to big cities far away. Although I may harbor a fantasy that they may one day move back like these young people, I’m not sure if that’s a reasonable desire. But despite my personal feelings on the subject, it’s just really cool to know that the Overlook Trail has held a special place in their hearts, and could welcome them home like nothing else could. [A side note: what is a “sophisticated” trail hike? Not sure I’ve been on one, LOL]

We move on to a visitor from Seattle, who expresses something I think a lot of us can get behind: simply getting outdoors and experiencing nature. On October 20 2012, the hiker wrote: “My first and maybe only time here — coming from gray, rainy Seattle — this place feels so different and refreshing. There are so many places in the world — big towns, small towns — with people who are happy and sad. But if they got outside and visited this tree with the unusual pods [most likely a buckeye] and looked out to the hills and trees and water and all the people doing all the things in the valley — it would make them feel just a little better, I think.” We agree, “KL”, we agree.

Reading through all of the hiker notebooks has been a joy, as so many hikers have expressed positive emotions during their hikes — even when dealing with serious life issues, as they have felt like their time in nature has helped them to deal with tough times. I know that it would be the first place I would head when struggling. So all of this appreciation, gratitude, and love is both fully expected and yet inspiring. It’s why we do what we do.

Team Building on the Trail

Today a global technology team took a long hike that started on the Montini Preserve, and finished on the Overlook Trail and Mountain Cemetery. With over 50 people in attendance from all over the world (see the picture to the right), it was something to behold. Attendees were from the U.S., Canada, Israel, Japan, China, the Czech Republic, and who knows where else. They were here in the Bay Area for their annual conference for employees and customers of the Scylla NoSQL parallel database system.

The hike was very ably led by Melissa Beasley and Lisa Turchet, both yoga instructors and hike leaders for The Lodge at Sonoma. Melissa led the hike and Lisa made sure no one was left behind. This hike was part of a “thank you” as well as a team building exercise for the company, as with any very distributed company it can be difficult to build relationships that are challenged by both distance and time zone issues. Having been a part of a global organization, I know these challenges personally. Face time is really important, especially in a relaxed atmosphere such as a nature hike.

So it was good that our trails could be used to build relationships, introduce visitors to the awesomeness that is the Sonoma Valley, and generally show them a good time. Thank you to The Lodge at Sonoma, and particularly to the hike leaders Melissa Beasley and Lisa Turchet, for leading such a great event on our cherished trails!

Star Volunteer Award goes to Joanna Kemper

A well deserved award, “Sonoma Valley Star Volunteer” was presented to Joanna Kemper today at the 11th Annual Celebration for Star Volunteers at Hanna Boys Center, hosted by the Sonoma Valley Fund.

Joanna was the leader of the Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards for over 9 years, providing guidance, support, and vision to the all-volunteer group that maintains and manages the trail. She’s been a key player in intiating and completing the recent rehabilitation and restoration of the trail. She’s still involved with the trail, providing support and energy to events, trail work and leadership.

Congratulations Joanna!

Paying the Trail Back

Dan Noreen, Beverage Supervisor, David Pye, Director of Engineering, Jay Garrett General Manager, Nathan Wakeen, Senior Rooms Operations Manager, Kaitlyn Tinder Director of Human Resources, Fred Allebach, Trail Steward (not pictured: Bill Wilson and Joanna Kemper, Trail Stewards).

The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa has long led hiking trips on the Sonoma Overlook Trail. Under the able leadership of Dan Noreen, Beverage Director and Sommelier, who is also an accomplished naturalist (seriously, where does it stop?), the Lodge offers daily hikes on the trail that are frequently populated by any number of Sonoma visitors, from one to 30 or more. Dan leads a special nature hike on Friday mornings, while on other mornings one of the coterie of the Lodge’s yoga teachers, who hold a class just before, lead a hike. As a daily hiker myself, I know all of them, and welcome them and their groups on a daily basis.

Since the trail is a free and open resource to all, that could be the end of this story. But Dan and his staff want to give back to the trail so they do and have for years. For the last three years the Lodge has coordinated with the Trail Stewards to send a large team on Coastal Cleanup Day. This time the group did a general cleanup and weeding at the trail kiosk and entry steps, and fortified a nearby wood staircase with cement blocks. Trail Stewards Fred Allebach, Joanna Kemper, and Bill Wilson provided materials, tools, and direction.

As always, we greatly appreciate their volunteer efforts to help maintain the trail and the property as the wonderful resource that it is — not just for our local community but also for our valued visitors from around the world. It takes a village, and we’re delighted to have their participation in that community of support.

 

Montini Volunteer Trail Day on Oct. 12, 9:30-12:30

Come out and help the Sonoma Ecology Center maintain the trails of  Montini Preserve with the restoration team. Bring gloves, hat, and water that you can carry hands-free (i.e. bring a backpack). Wear long pants, boots or sturdy shoes and sunscreen. Poison oak is present, so long sleeves are suggested. We have tools and trained staff with tasks for all. Those under 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult. We will provide tools and refreshments for volunteers.

No RSVP required. Meeting at 4th Street Kissing Gate (cross-street is Haraszthy) at 9:30am on Oct. 12th.

MontiniRainbow