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Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

I walk up No Name Canyon. It is not a canyon without a name, rather it is called no name. I venture away from the highway and the town, to a place unknown to me, and encounter something else that it often unnamed. The day is warm and sunny, the first of its kind in a long time, and as i take this short hike of discovery, away from the noisy din of the town, i discover something inside as well.

Few people are about as i enter into this narrow unfamiliar zone. I imagine that i catch a whiff of the scent of bear; and then again – i hesitate. i continue up the access road, passing the last homes and few people are around. I do not know if the bears smell the same here, but i wonder.

I am away from the town and the highway. I am aware of my aloneness. I hear the creek and the birds. I watch the water rushing over rocks and logs, beside trees in new leaf, the sun shining through, the elements connecting and i feel connected too. I feel a gentle breeze blowing through, and if i listen closely enough i can hear it too. It is the trees, grasses or the sparse undergrowth and me in this land.

Entering No Name

I do not venture up too far, i do not go into the back country or even too far into midcountry. At a place where a small stream, a trickle, crosses over the path, i hesitate. i think of the full creeks and flooding, i think of the heavy snowpack this year. i imagine the creek rising though it is a sunny day. i turn around and do not venture forth. Now i sit on a log writing – wondering if to go forth again, or to turn back, but i do not want to go back to the town quite yet.

I remember my first time in Colorado, actually my only other time here, 25 years ago. I was up near Estes Park – somewhere out of town, at a quiet, isolated hostel. It was my first encounter with wilderness. I was amazed and i was scared, afraid of what might be there, of what may come. i was alone, on a short trail, i am not sure where exactly, the air was fresh, and i felt fear, i was out of my element for i was a city girl, one who grew up in the suburbs. All was new to me – had never really hiked – perhaps a bit with girl guides, and never been in the wild, the wild that i craved, but that i now feared. I turned back to the hostel, ashamed, after pacing back and forth in place, but found a few others to go with later or was it the next day. I’m sure i must have held them back but i followed and listened, unsure about going on. I was 20 then, and have lived another lifetime plus since then. 

I sit on the edge of the trail, on a fallen log, wondering what i should do. The path calls me forth, and i do not wish to head back to the town, it is not yet time. I was unsure as i entered, and that uncertainty follows me. The truth is, i am still not truly comfortable in the wild – it calls me forth, but then i turn back to the land that we have built, and once there want to go out again. I know i prefer a tamer landscape, but this is where i am – on national forest land – land that i value, that is accessible to all, that is still untamed. There is a trail which people use, and i am not very far along, but the wild that beckons also feels lonely, and i feel out of my element. I am so aware of my presence here. But i have felt this in so many other locales, along so many trails, calling myself chicken and feeling bad. Still, i think of the access road, and the no trespassing and keep out signs in front of the homes, and that is what is often around in the created world, in the built environment, and that is how i often feel there, looking in to places i may not enter.

I picked a comfortable place to sit, but one without a view, crunched up on the edge of the trail. I feel i must continue on, at least a bit, see if i can cross the stream. For how many times have i turned back and asked myself why, especially after hearing about what lay on the other side, or further down the road. Is it a call to go forth or just a feeling that i should – one those should feelings that have more to do with the ideas of what you are supposed to do rather than to any true call. But i look up, and go on, something is calling.

The creek is easy to cross, in fact after stepping over shallow water, i step onto a log that crosses it – a log that has been smoothed and is an integral part of the trail. the trail passes next to the creek and i listen, listen to the sound of flowing water and feel alive, i pass through trees, and keep telling myself i will go to the next turn and then the next to get another view of the mountain tops. I am at peace. Well almost, for i keep asking how far will i go. But still, my perspective has changed, and with each bend, the lens shifts again.

I come to a place with some boulders on which to sit, a flat area by the water, with both sun and shade. I have climbed a bit and short steep walls

special place on no name creek

enclose the water, a mini-canyon of sorts, and i look down the creek and at the mountain tops in all directions. The trail seems to split here, the main part heading up and away from the creek in a series of switchbacks, another going down closer to the water.

I look at the trail heading up, ascending, and i know it will take me into another land. I feel that i should go up, and it is a should for the other path calls me more. I am not sure if it is a true path, but say i will take a look, and then perhaps return. i turn down it; it narrows and dead-ends by the water. I return to the overlook beside the creek, sit on the boulders and smoke a cigarette – something i know that i should not be doing here – but as always, i am careful, careful to completely put out the flame, pour water over it, and remove the butt, leave no trace, no trace of my presence.

I think of other mountain trails i have gone up, and the many i have not; the many where i have stopped short of reaching the top. Just the other day, i had gone up the Red Mountain, Jean Golay trail, but i did not make it to the top, the day had turned hot, and i had not brought enough water with me. I got close, to an amazing vista with a view and a bench, but i thought of how many times i had done that, come close and then stopped and turned back.

I think of my recent trip to Yosemite, where i finally reached the top of nevada falls – had turned back a few times before, on previous visits, first at the bottom, and then the top of vernal falls. But this time i had made it, twice, and the second time was much easier. i knew the path, i knew that i could reach the goal, so went up with confidence. I knew that to reach the top took some effort, and i could do it. Up top had amazing views of the valley and beyond, i was happy to have made it but also asked myself why was i here? Many others walked the trail, young and old, fit and not, and so i felt that i should too. But i had shown myself that i could.

I thought of Crough Patrick, and those who encouraged me to make it to the top when i wanted to give up; and again so glad i did not turn back, it was a goal i had set, climb the saint’s mountain, and while the views were grand, up top were gathered groups of people engaged in loud banter, milling about and greater peace was found along the path. But i made it.

And that is part of it, making it. But making what? That and avoiding the feeling of failure, of having missed out. I remember regrets of turning back before the top, of turning back in so many places out of fear, out of the belief that i could not get there or of not knowing what would be there. The volcanoes not climbed, the trails not hiked, turning back before i reached it, or never going for it because i told myself no. And i also thought of others where i continued up or down to prove a point, to prove that i could.

But here there is no single peak to climb, and the trails go back for 8 miles into the flattop wilderness, only to connect to more trails, and there was no where in particular that i wanted to go. Besides, there were no others around to encourage or to inspire me. And the trail veered away from the creek. Was it where i really wanted to go?

I again thought of Yosemite, and the upper falls trail, where i came close to turning back, it was crowded, a solid line going up, some dropping off at various points. I felt closed in on, pushed along at points, at congested vistas, and the trail was narrow so it was hard just to pause and be with the all, to take in the path itself and all it had to show. I had no intention of going to the very top, but to the overlook of the upper falls, and there i stopped and felt at one with the all, found a special place and sat for a while. I got to the place that i had set in mind, and while i did not spend enough time there, i reached my goal. And while later others, the alpha types, scoffed at this, i knew that my hike was mine, and that i also had views and vistas they had missed, and my destination was my own.

looking down no name

I breathe, breathe deep. It is me and the wilderness here – the mountains, the trees, the water, the stone. I watch the rush of the water again, flowing down. I feel its life, and the life of spring in the trees and new leaves. All opens up. all becomes clear. The mountains become alive and reveal themselves to me. A calm floats over me, and i feel that i could be here forever, at one, in this very spot. In this very spot. Then i know, this is where i am meant to be in this moment. This is the spot i came to, this was my destination for the day.

 

looking over no name

I stay for a while, a quietude coming over, the sounds of nature, its music, filtering in. The creek drowning out all negative thoughts, all thoughts, for a moment we join. The container of the canyon nurtures me, embraces me. Soon, i know it is time to go back, and i am now refreshed and revitalized. Now i am ready to emerge.

 
 
looking above and beyond the canyon

I descend. I am now travelling in the same direction as the creek. I am going with the flow and i am in flow. I look up and more guardians in stone appear on the rocky mountains and i thank them for looking over this place. The trees are more vibrant, and a large butterfly almost flies into me. I look down, and many tiny violet butterflies float and dance around my feet, encircling me, calling to me. As i head back, they appear many times, singing the song of new life. as i emerge from this canyon, i feel a new life inside, and for the moment, leaving behind the fears and feelings that often have no name.

 
 

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Vernal falls trail –
This place is another world. walking up the hill i feel different and lighter and i know it is not just the effort i have exerted. On the bus ride in, we pass through el portal – the portal and enter into another zone – rock formations are more prominent, trees change and all becomes more alive. The valley is a special world, a fantasy land we come to; passing through harsher lands on all sides to get here; protect the area, falls of civilizations, the remains.

I felt my energy shift and loosen as I headed up the trail and something profound around, but i did not feel transported to another dimension as before. Had the last time been a random chance, or was i ready for god’s grace at the time? Did i need then to be shown the absolute, a strong vision in order to believe, just as my body, heart and soul must scream loudly before i listen? Has the energy shifted here as on the coast? Or are there certain times where it is more active – an interaction of the earth with the stars, planets, sun and sky? given the profound astrological alignments of the past year, how has the earth been altered? Or do i not see it now because i had not purified myself? but then again had i last time?

I climb higher – the mist trail is open – climb the steep steps to the top of Vernal Falls. Another world opens up of pools of water and stone. The water is calm and the pools feel contained, and the mountains glisten across the way. I sit in the new land that i have discovered and think about heading further on up to another land. Nevada Falls lay above and i head up a trail and watch them from a distance – from the bridge that crosses the stream. The trail leads to the top, and to what is most certainly another land.

I am near the top of the bridge above the emerald pools and i feel off kilter once again. I do not continue the hike up to the top of Nevada Falls -I am confused, I say no. It does not feel right – but i watch so many others crossing over, my mind starts to chatter – why do i avoid going to the top. If i dont go, am i a wimp? That is how i feel. I know it leads up, to another zone i cannot see, another portal perhaps? The place of lords or others? but i do not feel like going – is it that i am afraid to make the effort? I feel that i cannot make it there – i am tired. I am confused. I walk over the bridge and the path veers away from the river into the drier woods where all i see is trees. A man is yelling on his cell phone. Two hikers come down looking sad and tired. I pause for a while and turn back again, recrossing the bridge and sit on the rock slope that overlooks the stream.

I sit and smoke and feel calm as i look out. Maybe this is as far as i am meant to go. I feel good here now. Maybe i will just write for a while. My water bottles drop out of the pockets on my bag and role down the sloping rock face where i sit and into a gully and disappear from view. Is this a sign? Fate determined? I know now that i was right. i am resigned. I want to stay here but i feel thirsty in the sun. i think i can make it down to the bottom of vernal falls where a fountain provided water to drink. I turn back.

I walk out to the bridge that crosses the stream to look up to Nevada Falls one more time. I see my water bottles down below on a ledge and am relieved they did not go flying over the falls. I can reach the ledge, i do not have to turn back. I scramble down a space between the boulders to get to them and return to where i was sitting. still undecided. will i be mad at myself if i turn back? Is being able to retrieve them a sign that maybe i just need to take a little step? I had given up, but then i looked beyond. Am i just out of my comfort zone? Or is something telling me a bigger no? The sky changes and clouds come in, just a few but…. the trail on the other side veers away from the creek into the woods – i stare at the dome. I don’t know what i feel? Peace seems to have disappeared. Is it merely a loosening of the stuff inside?

I go back to the bridge and cross it again – two girls are in front of me – they ask an older man how far it is to the top of the falls. He has a map. he and his wife had just walked a few more minutes on – to the bottom of the falls – and have decided to take another route. i go that far, a glimpse of beauty and then turn around – content and at peace.

Going down i am glad i did – my legs feel a bit like jelly. I slip on a step – not enough to fall, but enough to know i did my share. I admire the rainbows once again at the bottom of vernal falls, rest for a while on a boulder by the creek lovely. I am smiling when i come to the bottom of the trail.

(in the week that follows, i wonder if i should go back and try for the top but i never do, in fact, i do not get up to the emerald pools again)

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