Louisiana Dreamer ~ Embodiment of Courageous Wild Creative Freedom

Musings and meanderings of writer/artist Linda Hubbard Lalande on art, culture, social media, spirituality, yoga, life

Driven By Wonder and a Sense of Adventure, Solo Camping Draws Me In

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July 15, 2015: Starship Entry

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Kickin’ back in Buckeye Flats, Sequoia National Park, on my third solo trip.

A sojourn to see my daughter, Emily Lalande, complete her 2nd year in Waldorf teacher training to the San Francisco Bay Area started a continuing road trip odyssey. On the way up the main vein of the state, Hwy 5, I was drawn to the Owl Tree at San Luis Reservoir…. See that tale here.

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My daughter Emily Lalande (front center) performing Eurythmy at Waldorf Teacher Training presentation in San Francisco. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurythmy. (Far left) Emily preparing for recorder performance.

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Visiting Pt. Reyes Station and art studio of Patricia Thomas.

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Views of Lake Kaweah on the way from Exeter to Three Rivers entrance to Sequoia National Forest .

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Kicking’ in with Anna Measures at the Kaweah Motel in Exeter

On the return trip, I took a segway into the Sequoia forest, via Exeter and the illuminated manuscript of Lake Kaweah. I was captivated. After 2 nights at the Americana classic Kaweah Motel with fellow intrepid, Anna Measures, I fell under the spell of the Paradise River and Giant Sequoias. Anna and I had trekked into the park determined to see the General Sherman Sequoia Tree – The BIGGEST TREE ON EARTH by volume and despite rain, sleet and snowy conditions, we made it. Me in my socks and sandals and Anna’s jacket – I had left my hiking boots and jacket in my own car, so felt like the quintessential city slicker.

“It was curiosity that was driving drove us [Homo Sapiens – to explore] That’s the defining aspect of our species – we want to know what’s on the other side.” First Peoples, Asia, PBS 

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Anna and I treasure hunting at Under the Water Tower Antique Store, Exeter, California

Fruit stand

Relishing the abundance of California’s Central Valley orchards.

Mesmerized by the mystical eco-climate surrounding the outlandish red barked giants, we wandered around the grove trying to stay warm in the unexpected snowfall. We took in the majesty of the trees so big you can’t really believe what you are seeing. Among the few other visitors was an excited middle-aged couple that had just seen a bear in the trees toward the meadow. So we high-tailed it up the slippery path with great anticipation. I just knew I was going to see a bear on this visit. Anna was the first to spot the shiny black creature – it was hovering over a log at the edge of the trees, and looking our way. I sensed adolescent male, but who knows really. He was curious, and far enough away that I could get a good photo and video without feeling too cautious. He tore some bark off a fallen log, then straddled it and walked away, at one point turning his head in a gesture that spoke to me, “Come follow me”…. And so I did. We caught a second glimpse of him lumbering down the hill – the sun making his slick black fur shine and bristle with the moisture in the air. I felt blessed and happy that these powerful animals are still wandering free.

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I had to literally run and hobble back to the car, as my feet were frozen stiff in my wet socks and open sandals. But it was well worth the pain… We drove to the green greeeeeen GREEN verdant Crescent Meadow where I jumped out of the warm car and ran to the edge for a deep draft of air and visual reward. Our last stop was Hospital Rock marked by ancient pictographs, at the entrance road to Buckeye Flats campground. Seeing the incredible beauty of this rustic site, I determined to return. The next morning Anna returned to the city and I took off for a tour of Crystal Cave and to secure a site a Buck Eye Flats.Lalande_0106

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Lucky me! I pulled into Site #13 just above the Paradise River gorge and pitched my tent. It was a lovely site, with the water crashing noisily down the grey green slippery slopes of the canyon. A tree on my site looked like a captured soul – and we began a communication. I got that it was the spirit of a horse, left wounded and dying in the distant eons of time… and that there were others in the surrounding grove. I drummed and did ceremonial offerings, asking the spirits to be benign towards me, and prayed they would be released to rest in peace if they chose, or to experience joy in their tree homes.

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Paradise River

The Crystal Cave tour will be the subject of an upcoming blog, as it deserves singular attention. Suffice to say it is nothing short of miraculous and truly is shiny sparkly crystal passages with underground rivers of pure clear spring water.

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Wild flowers abound!

Hiking the Paradise River Trail treated me to 22 different wild flowers, a constant companion of rushing, powerful water that could be heard, felt and seen, and an enchanted forest walk. I was joined at the start by a couple from SF about my age – we walked till lunch time through incredibly beautiful waterfalls, bridges, trails and pools where we took off our hiking boots to cool our aching feet. The woman was from Tuscany, with beautiful silver hair and a lyrical Italian accent, reminding me of my dear Italian friend, Chiara Perin, and my time in the Argentario north of Rome. We had a lively exchange, sharing travel stories and camping escapades. The husband was a classical pianist in the city – we exchanged information, which I will hopefully recover somewhere in my camping miscellany.

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Moss magic creatures seem surprised I caught glimpse of them.

I pressed on another 2 hours, determined to reach what the map had said was the ‘high point’ only to discover in the fine print that ‘after the first mile, the trail becomes faint, so be prepared for off trail hiking.” So after 3 hours of pushing uphill, I turned back, satisfied with the terrific views of treed hillsides and verdant valleys falling below me. On the way back, of course I saw a whole new perspective. Deeply furred mossy sections of the trail revealed themselves – velvety Sargent green rocks spilled down cliff sides that I had not noticed before. I came around one ferny shaded passage way, and was stopped in my tracks by what looked like leprechauns and their furry friends caught just as they turned into moss creatures, “Quick – Human! Moss magic!” called over a shoulder, and they froze in their tracks. The photos show an alligator dragon figure along with two companions of magical shapes.Lalande_1154_2

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Rio Mortal signs warn of river currents.

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.”

~ John Muir

I spent a peaceful night at my campfire, and decided the next morning to stay another night, shifting over a few sites to an open space, as lovely as the last, surrounding by arched trees filled with buckeye flowers. After a day in the caves, I returned to cook dinner and hunker down for what looked like a wild storm. As I lay in my cozy little tent, the sound of the downpour – so welcomed after the choking dryness of LA – made me feel as though I were inside a drum. Waking in the night – I was gripped by the primal fear of hearing what I thought were footsteps coming toward the tent – in the thunderstorm I could only imagine it was a beast not a human – and a large one – so bear loomed into my imagination. At 3 in the morning a tent is quite dark, so I fumbled for my flashlight to discover that the rain was dripping from above, and leaking in from below … and the sound was the tent flapping due to a weak pole that was letting the tent slack, allowing for rain puddles to form….. As the human is liable to do in the face of challenge, I found an ingenious solution using 2 long flash lights to push the tent side tight so the rain ran off, put a towel to good use, shifted away from the drip and used the adrenalin rush to repeat my mantra Om Namah Shivaya furiously and gratefully fell back to sleep.

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I pulled myself away and back to the urban insanity the next day, resolved to return as soon as possible.

June arrived, with the prospect of my 62nd birthday looming. I resolved NOT to depend on anyone else to remember or entertain me on what I was certain could be a deadly boring and angst filled interlude. I set out to find a camping site close to home, and scheduled two nights at Malibu Creek – but after an evening visit realized it was far too tame, and too close. So I continued my search and found out I could show up for 2 nights at Buckeye and take my chances as first comer to the other campgrounds. I switched Malibu to the beach in July, and set my sights on another Sequoia trip in June.

Thus my 3rd solo trip was born. And as my dear friend Karina D’Arcy expressed: “Today your tent has offered itself not as a home, not as an earth, but as a Perspective Hospitable to Experiments in Dwelling Differently in your Body upon the Earth.”

Excerpts from readings that influenced my travel.  Travel and my birthday always inspire contemplations on mortality and the deeper meanings of life. Over and over again people commented on how courageous I am to go solo into my wanderings, but solo is truly the only way to get at the heart of life. 

On Travel

“The wish to travel seems to me characteristically human: the desire to move, to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger, to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape, to risk the unknown, to bear witness to the consequences, tragic or comic, of people possessed by the narcissism of minor differences. Chekhov said, “If you are afraid of loneliness, don’t marry.” I would say, if you’re afraid of loneliness, don’t travel. The literature of travel shows the effects of solitude, sometimes mournful, more often enriching, now and then unexpectedly spiritual.”
~ Paul Theroux, The Tao of Travel, Preface: The Importance of Elsewhere

On Nature:

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.”

~ John Muir

On Death:

“Death doesn’t burden your life. It animates your life. The centrality of death gives you the chance to live, because it says, “Here’s the bad news: It’s not going to last.” …

The great torment of our times is that a lot of people are waking up to the fact that something is missing, but its actually not missing in the world. What’s missing is their ability to see the world. They’re not observing it with two functioning eyes. And its not that they can’t see an object in their field of vision; its that they can’t see the field. ….

People are steeped in doubt, and I’m offering wonder – the ability to be full of wonder in an environment that sucks it out of you. …

Everything born must die … once your realize this, your better self is born of GRIEF. Grief is the amniotic fluid for your humanity. That’s how it works. The guilt will pass, {the moment of blistering realization that your entire existence as a Westerner has been a massive assault on the natural order of things – that you’re on the take.} The guilt will pass but the grief will not, because its composted into something much more life-loving – but not human-hating. There’s no hating, no resigning, no withdrawing or running or transcending.

Stay here. Stay long enough that grief can have its way with you, and you begin to realize that this grief is a wisdom, a recognition that human being are maintained by the death of other living things.

Death – not a symbolic or hypothetical end, but real, kick-ass human death- can raise up into the light the fundamental realization of how much had to die to keep you alive over your lifetime. Can you add it up? Dare you? Could you bear it? Maybe not, but it’s good to think about.”

~ Stephen Jenkinson of Orphan Wisdom School: The Sun Magazine interview HowWe Deny Our Mortality in the article As We Lay Dying,

Interested in joining me for an adventure? By popular demand of friends and relations, I am hosting magical campouts, hikes, ceremonies, creative gatherings and more for the adventurous nature lovers. We are having a 2-day Soul Journey Campout and will be holding Wild Women Medicine ceremonies on July 22 and 23 at 6:30 pm at Sycamore Canyon Beach, Malibu. Click here for the latest events.

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Author: Linda Hubbard Lalande

Storyteller, myth maker, visual artist, intuitive dancer, meditator, chanter, yogini, spiritual devotee, incurable romantic, music lover. Communications professional, writer, photographer, nature lover, environmentalist, social media professional.

One thought on “Driven By Wonder and a Sense of Adventure, Solo Camping Draws Me In

  1. Reblogged this on Louisiana Dreamer ~ Embodiment of Fearless Wild Creative Freedom and commented:

    Getting ready for the woods of Sycamore Canyon Beach, Malibu — come join us July 22-24 for the full dose of our Medicine Soul Journey. Or step into the beach ceremonies at 6:30 pm on both Wed. and Thursday to drum, dance and play with Mother Ocean, Dolphin and Whale.

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