“…he was there alone…”

“…he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone…”
– Matthew 14:23

The only thing that ever stays the same whenever I take that Meyers Briggs Test is the “N” part – “Intuitive” – everything else – the Introvert/Extrovert, Thinking/Feeling, Judging/Perception stuff – seems to constantly change. Right now I test as an Introvert. This month the idea of going “up into a mountain apart to pray” sounds really lovely to me.  And I guess I’ve been feeling guilty about that. I’m not sure everyone understands the need some of us have for solitude. I worry it might be viewed as unfriendly or “not doing one’s part,” or even insulting, if I say no, I’m not going to be able to make it to that party; or no, I can’t go to that meeting; or no, I can’t join all of you this time. 

But hey – even Jesus needed time alone, right?


        “For three years after my discovery, I sought the solution of this problem of Mind-healing, searched the Scriptures and read little else, kept aloof from society, and devoted time and energies to discovering a positive rule. The search was sweet, calm, and buoyant with hope, not selfish nor depressing.”
– Mary Baker Eddy




In Celebration of Mother Earth

“Nature voices natural, spiritual law and divine Love,  but human belief misinterprets nature. Arctic regions, sunny tropics, giant hills, winged winds,  mighty billows, verdant vales, festive flowers,  and glorious heavens, – all point to Mind, the spiritual intelligence they reflect. The floral apostles are hieroglyphs of Deity. Suns and planets teach grand lessons.  The stars make night beautiful, and the leaflet turns naturally towards the light.” – Mary Baker Eddy

Presence is needed to become aware of the beauty, the majesty, the sacredness of nature…You have to put down for a moment your personal baggage of problems, of past and future, as well as your knowledge; otherwise, you will see but not see, hear but not hear.  Your total presence is required.”
from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”
– Isaiah 55: 12

(Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

Dad’s Backpack

Tomorrow will not only be Father’s Day, it will be my dad’s 97th birthday. My dad, Dee Molenaar, has lived a most amazing 97 years. He was born at the end of World War I, was alive when women got the right to vote, lived through the Great Depression, fought in World War II, saw men walk on the moon, and teared-up with pride for his country the night the first African-American was elected President. He has traveled on six of the seven continents (the only continent he somehow missed was Africa),  climbed on the highest mountains in the world (and, with his climbing team, almost made the first summit of the second tallest one), painted paintings, written books, created maps, had his photos published in National Geographic, and hobnobbed with presidential candidates.

He and Mom are currently in the process of moving out of their home of 48 years. This has involved some down-sizing. Last weekend when I was at their place to help them pack up, Dad gave me the little backpack he’d bought in 1973 for his journey to Europe to climb in the Alps. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to be able to bring that familiar little pack home with me. I always knew I was safe when I was climbing with the man who wore this pack. This is the pack Dad wore to the summit of Rainier when we’d climbed it together in 1977, and the same pack I’d followed up to the top of Mount Baker ten years later. This is the pack Dad wore when he’d taken hikes with my young sons and myself. There are a lot of fond memories attached to that pack.

For now, it is hanging from a hook in our family room. I know it doesn’t have any special magical powers or anything, but somehow just looking at it makes me feel safe.

Dee Molenaar's pack

Dad’s pack

Preface to Memoirs of a Dinosaur Mountaineer

Preface to Dee Molenaar’s book, Memoirs of a Dinosaur Mountaineer

A light breeze came up the canyon and through the pine boughs overhead, and soon isolated white specks began descending. The snowflakes increased and soon we were encompassed in a flurry that blotted out the semi-arid valley far below, and the trail penetrating the pines below the granite walls high above. In our present light apparel and on a short, leg-stretching hike after motoring from Death Valley 80 miles in the east, our “Old Cronies Expedition” took another prolonged look around, and turned back to the trailhead at Whitney Portal.

It was then that my brother K and I and our friends, George Senner and Bob Johnson, found we were not alone among these rugged mountains.

Coming down through the mists was a lone hiker.

The heavily-bearded, long-haired chap was traveling beneath a bulky backpack that suggested he’d been out for some time. However, the big coil of fiberglass rope tucked beneath a hatchet, a large cast-iron skillet, and soft-toed boots indicated this was no modern-day mountaineer with a fetish for the latest in lightweight travel.

He stopped briefly and we questioned him about his travels. He was originally from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and more recently from the Stockton area across the mountains. Tiring of the Bay Area drug scene, he was aiming for a change of pace and was now returning from a trip into the mountains. He talked confidently of his climbing experiences and we enjoyed his free-spirited philosophy before we parted. At a distance through the mist we followed his burdened figure down the trail.

Meeting this hairy 40-ish fellow on the Mount Whitney trail rekindled my thoughts of a half-century earlier – in 1937, a late-summer trip into the Sierras Nevada with my brother K, similarly clad in jeans and carrying unwieldy loads. In that day we also had the trail and the mountain pretty much to ourselves. But in today’s world, had we passed here a couple months later, during the summer’s climbing season, we would have been part of the mountain’s allowable 75 hikers registered daily for the 20-mile roundtrip to the top of Mount Whitney.

How times have changed since those youthful days of the 1930s, during the Great Depression and prior to World War II.

Yet my life since has been a succession of fortuitous circumstances – in many cases being in the right place at the right time and meeting the right person. And though the breaks never made me rich, they provided a bounty of fond memories of fascinating places and events, people and good friends.

– Dee Molenaar


Into the Mountains…

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. – Psalms 121

…The world felt safe here – untouched by war, pestilence, famine – greed and hatred seemed a universe away…

into the mountains

photo of Mount Shuksan in the North Cascades by Karen Molenaar Terrell

Sweet Solitude!

sweet solitude

Photo taken on top of Table Mountain in the North Cascades, by Karen Molenaar Terrell

I took myself on a hike today – just me and… well… myself. I was so excited to go on a date with me. We-me hadn’t gone on a hike alone for a really long time. I was even looking forward to the one and a half hour drive up to the trailhead – excited about being able to put in a CD of my choice, without having to worry if my choice of music was going to annoy any poor hapless individual stuck in the car with me; excited about being able to roll the windows all the way down if I wanted without having to worry about somebody else’s hair getting mussed, or face getting lashed and buffeted by the wind; excited about being able to stop and take pictures if I wanted, get some tea maybe, take my time – without having to worry about anyone else’s needs or schedule; and really, really excited about stretching my legs in the mountains again. I’ve been having a “mountain jones” the last week.

And I have to tell you – it was MARVELOUS! I had a great date with myself. I put in a Jason Mraz CD and sang along with it all the way to the Heather Meadows parking lot. And once I hit the trail I started singing the theme song from “The Sound of Music” – because when I’m on a date with myself there can never be enough schmaltz. We (me and myself) felt really good up there today – strong and able. When we got to the top of Table Mountain we built a little cairn out of rocks and then sat down for a lunch of crackers and cheese. Then, because we were feeling strong and able, we decided to venture another half a mile or so along the ridge to a nice overlook of the valley below. We didn’t hurry. We took our time, snapped photos when we wanted, stopped and just took in the views when it pleased us.

We saw a marmot scrambling around in the rocks up there, and met some cheerful friendly fellow hikers. On the way down we stopped and moved to the side as a young woman made her way up the trail. The trail is steep, and in places there’s a sheer drop on the other side of it, and the woman looked to be clinging to the rocks when she could.- I got the impression she was a little nervous about the whole adventure. I told her she was almost to the top and it was GORGEOUS up there, and her friend, who was standing next to me, waiting for her, said, “Yes! That’s right! You’re almost there!” and looked at me with gratitude in his eyes. “Thank you,” he said to me, . “Have a wonderful afternoon!”

And I did. 🙂

“…he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” – John 6:14