Being in nature offers an epic way to get out of this modern, urban world crowded by our own manic minds, the invasive psychic energies of others and the omnipresent information barrage from electronic communications …
Though we walk on the Earth we easily dismiss it … Like fish who don’t recognize water, we are immersed in a miraculous world that we barely see as we sleepwalk in overstimulated artificial environments.
In need of an antidote, I drive away from LA’s seemingly endless sprawl, with a deep sigh of relief. Though I’ve left mid-afternoon on a Wednesday, I find myself crawling through traffic thick with commuters. In a surrealistic slow motion parade, we funnel up Highway 5 on this ten-lane conveyor belt past Magic Mountain, the stronghold of crazy city dwellers out for a thrill.
Magic Mountain marks one edge of the sprawl. Once past this iconic playground, nature’s marvels unfold on the 5 corridor – a scenic passageway where Christo’s Yellow Umbrellas once unfolded, up through dramatic Gorman Pass winding into the magical azure blue Pyramid Lake, and the fertile Central Valley, food basket to America.
Eventually the traffic thins and golden teddy bear fur hills softly fold away from my windshield. Musical interludes carry cosmic messages as this road trip unfolds. I will celebrate the milestone of 62 years with an open-ended solo camping trip to the mysterious Giant Sequoia forest where I anticipate a major shift in consciousness.
As my friend Karina so aptly wished me … May I find a way of inhabiting my body differently to explore a fresh perspective. The alchemy of sleeping on the earth will transmute my scattered urban consciousness into golden strands of ease, surrender, peace.
Arriving at Buckeye Flats just as a windy bluster begins climbing across the eastern sky, I rush to secure my tent. Just in time with the help of the bearded neighbors, the tent is staked and the clouds burst, sending campers into vehicles to wait out the storm. Steamy windows and pounding rain are strangely comforting. The weather settles down just in time to fix dinner in the fading twilight, and my first night begins. Seventeen days later, I will emerge, refreshed, carrying the canopy of the Sequoia sky as a protective cape back to the city. My musings capture snapshots of my magical sojourn.
Waking in the Sequoias to spiraling shooting stars, pulsing rocks, roaring rivers, treeing mountainsides, grazing golden bears, curious deer. Greening meadows dappled with bright pink yellow orange wild flowers, verdant ferns, exotic mosses satiate my hunger.
The natural world of wonder eternally unfolds in vast enveloping waves spreading out before beneath within me. Sun and rain drench every pore.
Bobcat dashes though my campsite. Black bears amble through primeval forest. Lizards sun on ancient rocks, waterfalls mist each molecule. Rainbow light fills the sky, my heart, my eyes. Impossibly blue blue skys edge coarse granite-faced cliffs dramatically thrown up from the Earth’s surface. Evidence of glacial ice floes frozen in stone glitter in greens, golds, reds. whites, blacks, browns, greys. Sheer drops into infinity challenge climbers to seek dizzying heights. Up and Up and Up, breathing orgasmically deep with heart pounding in unison with all beings, animate and inanimate.
Time is measured here in millions of eons. Rocks capture passage of cataclysmic events. Days meted out in spectacular, subtle morning blossoms of light followed by sweltering heat bouncing of boulders, golden bear backs, shiny lizard creatures creeping out to absorb the warmth.
Afternoon storms roll in with dramatic gray cloud bursts saturating Giant Sequoia and Lodge Pole pine forests, feeding underground rivers in crystal caverns. In this 4-year drought, this blessed moisture is welcomed by humans, animals, plants, soil. Tribal boundaries open to embrace all that moves in this incandescent space.
Taking on my longest hike – 9 miles to Mist Falls at Roads End, Kings Canyon – I trip 3 miles in, on my own shoes. Lucky I only scrapped an arm, got a palm full of gravel cuts. Picked myself up, glad I had a first aid kit, cleaned up and determined to keep on. I look up, and there is a rainbow cloud, inspiring courage and resolve to reach deep inside and find strength. Well rewarded with awesome vistas in Muir’s Sierras.
Afternoon blaze dances into evening twilight. Inspired campers return from hikes, adventures into peaks and valleys of wonder, visions of mother nature filling their reservoirs.
Evening on edge of meadow, playing of resonant buffalo drum attracts mystical bats. Swooping down to me, I hear their primordial squeaks and swirls.
Camp fires blossom like fireflies. Air fills with smells of meat and vegetables, sounds of hushed voices slip into silvery night. Laughter echos with songs, whisperings, families bonding, animal and humans couple in coitus, creatures creeping quietly, insects buzzing, bats whirling and diving, life teems in half-light of moon mysteries.
Headlamps and flashlights twinkle under a vast canopy of stars. Animal eyes reflect phosphorescent green from dark forest paths. Sharp teeth with ancient tongues lick the smells of human presence into hungry nostrils.
The night descends as tents glow like candles among the ancient everlasting trees. Surrendering into the night and sleep, adventurers explore inner depths, anticipating the break of dawn that inevitability follows, no matter how deep the dark.
Eternal cycle continues. Be quiet. Listen and celebrate all that feeds us. Ragged soul, holy spirit and sacred body.
I’m finding a great reprieve in setting up a tent and simplifying life. For me, camping is a form of running a way from home, like this fellow blogger so aptly describes. http://thegription.com/bikepacking-is-running-away-from-home-for-grown-ups/
As a reward for my passion for nature, Spirit has gifted me with a new part time gig with outdoor adventure store, REI. They’ve opened a new place in my hometown, Woodland Hills, and welcomed me into the tribe as a Green Vested Inspired Guide. (Just like the one featured in A Walk In the Woods Robert Redford movie! Very funny! ) Grand opening is this weekend, Sept. 18 to 20, 2015. More to come on that front.
But I’ve reached the shore after a 3-year long hiatus. Thanks to Spirit, Goddess and Guardians. So many people responded to my solo adventures, asking me was I not afraid. Truthfully, I felt safer, more fully alive and IN my BODY than ever before. I will be planning more adventures, and bringing willing takers along with me when the time comes.