The lesson of a lost trekking pole

Sometimes I forget the goodness in people, and something as small as a lost trekking pole reminded me of that a few days ago.

I had left the pole at Moeur Park in Tempe after a hike.   It was near sunset, and I was hungry and in haste left it at the curb where I had changed back into sneakers.  At home that night in Phoenix, I realized the pole was gone.  Hopelessly gone, I thought.

The trekking pole back at home.
The trekking pole back at home.

This was not just any old trekking pole.  It held great sentimental value.

I had purchased a pair of matching poles at a boutique in Grindelwald, Switzerland, more than a year ago.  I gave one to Nebra and kept the other for myself.  My pole traveled with me on almost every hike since then.  Under the “Wall of Death,” the Eiger’s sheer North Face in the Alps.  Up and down three peaks in the Adirondacks last summer.  In the mountains and along canals, washes and trails here in Arizona.

I even used this dinged-up green pole with “Grindelwald” written down its length on walks through our neighborhood in Phoenix.  Just in case I came across a grumpy canine.

The pole is carried in my right hand, balanced and parallel to the ground, swinging naturally back and forth to the rhythm of my footsteps. Only occasionally do I jam its reliable point into terra firma, usually while descending steep slopes with loose rock.  The pole has saved me numerous times from a nasty fall.   I feel naked without it anymore.  It’s strange how stuff grows on you.

So, on the following day, the 12th, I planned to return to Moeur Park with sinking hopes of finding my companion.  It was about that time that “good people” began popping up.

It started with this.  While I moped around, Nebra made an early morning call, unknown by me, to Tempe Parks.  She left a message:  Has anyone turned in a lost trekking pole?

The message eventually reached a woman named Denise Brewer, who has the title of  Public Works Supervisor for Field Operations at Tempe Park Services.  Denise, in short order, hopped on her bicycle and pedaled from her office to Moeur Park, a distance I later calculated via Google Maps as 1.6 miles. She found the pole leaned up against a bicycle rack and whisked it back to her office.  Then she called Nebra who called me.  Within an hour I had the pole in grasp again.

Denise would not accept my offer of a reward.  She was going to the park anyway as part of her job.  She said.  Whatever, I believe Ms. Brewer went beyond her job description on this one, and I am grateful more than I can express.

Not forgotten is the anonymous soul who plucked the trekking pole from the parking lot and placed it in a conspicuous spot.

Angels follow me around sometimes.

NOTE OF DISCLOSURE:  In a way “Long Row” is plagiarizing.  A person using the handle of “black toes” posted a very similar piece yesterday on a hiking website.  I trust “Long Row” and “black toes” will not go to war over the issue since they are one and the same person.


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