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Posts Tagged ‘spirit of place’

July 4and July 14?

I camp at Quinault Lake, in the national forest, mosquitoes fly around my head as i type. i am in the national forest, on or beside indian land. The forest here is not as razed and hurt as it was on the drive up. Does some know that it has been preserved. I sleep deep, my tent at the base of one of the few giant spruce trees that remain. I chose this spot, at falls creek campground, in part because of the tree.
But i wonder now, how i give most to the largest trees, those that stand above. so many struggle to just survive and grow to grandeur too. do i look away from the clearcuts because i can feel their pain? are those not the very places that need our energy and love the most? Yes, this area has been restored for recreation, but can a place be true if it is surrounded by those areas hollowed out, those places that are only a shadow or what they once were, or what they could be.

But of those areas, can i not accept them for what they are?- a woman on the bus turned around like i did the other day, a local girl said “she did not like what she saw” – and that is true, and i turned around for the same reason, went back to where i stayed and saw it there – the clearcuts and deformed hills that stood beyond the town. but we have done it, used it up, cannot just run away, cannot say i don’t like you anymore. we do that with people too, ask why they cannot thrive when all has been chopped and distorted too, used up for the profit machines. We do not see the light they still have, the beauty somewhere inside. the communities as hollowed out at the land. We cannot do it to the land, and expect to survive – but do we reject what has been created, move on through, no longer wanting to see. can we send love, connect not out of pain but of something higher.

a child came down to the lake, the lake that shows its beauty, glistening beneath the mountains that surround, though in the light or lack there of the forest shows its pain, becoming grey, and the older chopped zone still can be seen – but he does not see, the best that he knows, and that is the energy that he sends, of love and appreciation for what is. and this Lake is an oasis of sorts in the coastal realm, and i know further back more grows still.

as i sleep under the giant, i see that is what it is with the razed places, nothing left, no giants to inspire the others who are coming up, showing the heights to which they may reach, the grandeur they may become; do the trees not know, have they forgotten what their potential is. or having been cut down to many times, do they refuse to grow, not seeing the point of it anymore, knowing they cannot become what they were meant to be,, only timber, and not leaving any offspring.

Still this places is healthier than the lands i passed through, the forest grows again here, and is more than timberland – ihe timberland of the lumber companies, who have turned trees into merely resources to serve another end, without respect for what they are. and yes, i smiled, the depletion that i felt left me when i came back in to an area that was more preserved or allowed to regrow. and i see the forest is more than the trees – it is the ferns that grow, the slugs along the path – though not today, the mosses and so much more. it is a place of life, where life forces meet and join.

Still it does feel heavy mixed with joy, i am in the rain forest on a sunny day, a day where birds sing and people come out to play. I remember when i first came here, the only time, 10 years ago, and wanted to leave, a rainy day, and i did not yet know about the rain forest, about rain pants or protecting a camera. beauty, wanted to return, and see how i have changed.

I had thought about staying longer but the store is closed, shut down for good. A lodge next to the campground where i buy coffee, but with an overpriced restaurant. The sun shines, but i do not hike, walk the edge of the lake, stare at the rocks that come alive in a small waterfall, and then take the bus north, to yet another lake.

I return to the rain forest at Lake Quinault a week later after having traveled to different lands, after having reached the location where i was to go. I came back and slept under the very same tree, and this time i felt it’s pain – being one of the survivors must be hard, one of the few who still stands, who has witnessed it all – but who still stands tall and proud.

This time i experience the rain forest in the rain, laying in my tent for hours on end, my tent that i was able to set up before the skies opened and poured down tears, bouncing off the ground, splattering the dirt upwards, nourishing that which will grow again. I have been through the park, and to islands where much is being restored, islands of forests and preserves and farms. The rain pours down, and then it stops, i walk a path, and in places it feels like forest again, it is alive, and it see the moss dripping down, and a few slugs along the path. i pack up a drenched tent, the bottom soupy with mud, and catch a bus to the south. But as i have passed around here, i feel something has been stripped out of me – is it just the rain and gray, or is it more. I pass through towns and cities, and then i yearn for it again, yearn for the lake where some of the trees grow tall, and nature sings, but i do not return – I almost do, for what grows there does have a place in my soul.

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the formations down the beach

Bandon- the locale where i first fell in love with rock formations 25 years ago on my first journey to the Oregon Coast. I fell in love with the small cute town as well, one that seemed to have a vibrancy at the time; or maybe it was the place where i stayed. I came back 10 years ago, and again the rocks spoke to me – they and the wind as sand whipped against my face, and the light playing on the stone. It was the first time i stepped into the moment, connected to the all, as i took photos on my 35 mm camera, waiting for the perfect light, and i saw how the rocks changed over the course of the day, appearing different with the altering light. And for some moments i was both engaged and still. But that was then, and even it was not complete – for i felt the town to be a shadow of what it was in my memory – was it me, or it, or the time of year, but the vibrancy seemed largely gone.

Today the rock formations, for which the town is known, seemed less alive to me as well. They spoke, but more softly than before. Was it the day – with a flatter sky of grey and a wind that blew – but not fiercely when i came out to the beach. No, the sky was blue by the time i left. Was it that i have visited so many rocks since then? Was it me – my mind distracted, full of chatter, keeping me out of the zone? I came to the rocks by myself, but thoughts of another, who had met up with me in brookings and tagged along to bandon, wanting me to lead him, to guide him, standing behind me, heavy, like a sack of rocks adding weight to my load, not seeing that i could not guide him, for i was not sure of my own journey. And the one time i had stopped here for a moment a few years ago, had also been with another, one who did not understand the stones,and did not share the communion with me – and the two of them seemed much akin. Or maybe, i was just expecting too much. Even so, the stones add life, and reveal a hidden past.

Bandon is most well known for Face Rock, the monolith looking up towards the sky. The face of the Princess Ewanu from the mountain peoples, who learned too late to respect and fear Seatka, the evil spirit of the ocean, is trapped staring at the moon refusing to look at him. she had become enchanted by the sea, did not listen to warnings, and was caught and her cats turned to stone further out. And all that remains above is her head, the rest buried beneath the surface.

the famous Face Rock

To me the legend seems partial, and i know it is not the only one. At the end of another protrusion, north on the beach lays another head, fainter, also staring at the moon, as if the two of them are looking out to sea, and up to sky, guarding the area.

the other main face in rock

It is some of the smaller rocks that call – in two, face to face, i see an ancient indian man and women, looking at one another, yearning to come together, but stuck in place.

looking wistfully at his maiden

looking out at her man

separated by sand

The cats stand out to sea, and their shapes reveal themselves less to me. Other creatures dot the shore, creatures of the land and the sea.

creature of the sea looking ashore

creature of the sea

I walk amongst the stones, down the beach, mesmerized by the sea. and wonder if the spirit has also spoken to me. I turn inland, towards the town in the mouth of the river. The sun emerges, and i long to visit them again, but must leave and cross the bridge to where i stay having visited those who i came to see. Perhaps i received their message long ago, and this time i was meant to speak to them.

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On Cape Arago

I became re-inspired on Cape Arago: the elements come together – the sea – both calm and pounding over and shaping stone; the earth – with rock formations, lunar landscape below the cliff, and above on the cliffs trees, plants, and a garden with flowers; sun and light shining, and wind blowing through. As i sat on a bench looking down the shore i felt a happiness and peace come over me.

Still, what speaks about the land and sea is not peace per se, but the earth and rocks that have been thrust up by ancient and not so ancient earthquakes, and formed and carved by the strong winds that blow through and the waves that can come crashing over, carving and altering form – or perhaps just revealing what lay buried beneath.

Below the cliffs where a forest grows – with large trees, ferns and thick green undergrowth, with deer and birds, lays a lunar landscape, of forms in stone. In this is see shapes, and the last time here in the fog what seemed like heads or people; it is of another time and place – but it is here. And as i look closely, i see that there is also life; seals blend into the mottled rocks, resting for a while, and swimming in the bays. It seems that they appear in many lands like this, of strong energies, where fault lines lay.

seals on lunar landscape

small figures - this whole level feels like the moon

The area is formed by intense geological activity of the past and present; with the rocks and headlands thrust up sideways, showing a twisting and turning of the earth, and land has been thrust up and under. I read about the earthquake of 1700 where much of the shoreline dropped several feet, and of many others in the distant past – and what i see now is how the earth stands for a moment, just a short blip in time. Today it feels calm as the sun shines down though the winds blow through; and i know that too is just a moment, a temporary state that comes and goes, for the last time here was in a thick heavy fog that shrouded all with a mist and drizzle that hung heavy in the air, seeping into all.

As i look at the rocks, once again i see more than just shapes carved by water, wind and the movement of the earth. I see spirits and shapes, remnants of some ancient times and peoples and life forms who were caught out or turned to stone; not only those from the last time, as revealed in the myths of the Coos Bay native peoples, but of millions and millions of years ago; a large face thrust upwards, a woman praying in a bay, heads beneath the cliffs, the laying down animal creatures that are similar up and down the coast, and a small smiling face, a whimsical one rising above a long low outcropping with a similar shape in the cloud above. And i know there is so much more than meets the eye and i ask are these spirits still alive, caught in the stone, or coming out?

ancient face on the beach - a guardian or warrior?

Woman in prayer

One of several 'lion' creatures guarding small bays

caught below the cliffs

emerging from the cliff

peaking above the rest

Then i go walk up top, seeing and feeling that life continues on – the forest grows with some purple wildflowers gracing the floor, a formal garden thrives at shore acres, and birds and people and small animals roam about. The layers of life are not only those of the past as revealed in the different strata of rock, but continue on today, being created, breathing life, shining, and one day, becoming part of the earth itself.

I think then of the towns i passed through coming out to this cape; Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston, all fairly hollowed out; much of the life force gone. Sad towns, built upon lumber and fishing, both industries largely fallen away; tourism, the casino, and i’m not sure what else, not making up for it. It is a place of empty downtowns, small bungalows, trailer parks, and sprawl. Is it because we have taken without giving back that they are emptied out, or have people been guided away from here. but even so, i see life about, a kindness, conversations on the bus, men clamming at low tide and it seems a hanging on, a waiting, like something has gone. As i write this i see this up and down the coast as if we are not meant to be here.

But the cape is magical connecting me to the all, the elements, to the life force, and to eons of time. Past, present, and futures to come. I watch the sunset at Sunset Bay and the calm enters again, as the sun glows and becomes transformed as it “sinks into the sea” or so our eyes tell us.

Sunset in sunset Bay

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Redwoods – june 10,11?

land of the trees

I am in the redwoods – i made it here – to the land of the ancient giants. The sun is going down and i will soon sleep beneath these trees. As i walked over to the hiker biker camp, here in Jedidiah Smith State Park, where i was a year ago, my right arm began to move – circling on its own. I walked back along the empty road, me and the trees and the ferns below, and it began to move again on its own – a circle – as if dowsing some energies here. I ask, what energies lay in this place, the zone of the trees by the smith river.

I have entered into the land ruled by trees – first the forests inland – as i crossed yesterday from Klamath Falls to Medford, through a land of lakes and trees in mountain zone, and today as i headed out here – but now am among these ancient giants who dwell in this narrow zone. And the hotsprings of this morning, and the town of this afternoon seem so far away in both time and space. On the bus riding through the beautiful land of hills and trees i felt lonely once again – lonely for an area also lived in by human beings – a land where all live harmoniously, I am back in California, but somehow it seems to me more like oregon.

A giant downed tree trunk sprouting life, not only moss, but plants and leaves and other trees growing on it as it decomposes. As it is all around, life growing from decay, life growing from life, a cycle to be completed and renewed.

the cycle of life - from death and decay sprouts new growth and life renewed

Thin soil covers the earth, hiding the rocks beneath, the spirits that have not yet emerged. The high canopy of the redwoods blocks out much of the sky. This zone is contained, life on the surface, between the above and the below – neither too visible, and not the focus, the focus is on the life that sprouts, that is, the colour of green, the colour of plant life form. It forms a bowl or a cocoon, not from the sides like valley walls, but from the bottom and the top, and you cannot see far, the vista is short, for forest surrounds.

I feel small and insignificant beneath these trees towering above, and their girth is wide. I am surrounded by the living, and i am just a small part, i am so small. There is so much here. it presses in. like a city in some ways, but so different, but the pulse is strong, all emit energy and the dance is dense. I feel small in a different way than when i travelled across the deserts a few days ago, on the train, with little life and green to be seen – the earth and the sky so vast, so large, and i, the train, so small, so little breathing life, so little dancing around, the above and below in full force. I longed for the dance of life on the surface, and now it is here, i longed for trees, and now i am in their land.

Redwoods Towering above

I sit beneath the redwoods. although they are not the only trees here, it is their land. The narrow strip in which they still grow, where they remain, looking over the land and us, providing a zone where the other plants may thrive. Where they may thrive beneath the guardians of this land, beneath those that have witnessed so much, who communicate between earth and sky. They are the survivors in this small place, in the groves that have been preserved, only small patches of what once was. For so many have been decimated, in the early days, chopped down with eyes for profit and their use. It feels lonely and heavy. The sun, now giving way to clouds or fog, does not shine through and the eye does not see very far.

I am back to the zone of the familiar- returned to the shore once again. I lost sight of it for a while as i went inland and above, but now i am back, and i am not sure how i feel. The route is known and the intensity is gone. I have come back down, closer to sea level once again, I leave the park, to go to the store, one that i know is there. I have been on this road before, going the other way.

I feel the life around pressing in – as i need not process it all. I know where the bathrooms are, where so much it, and realize that i feel similar to how i felt before, a feeling i had forgotten about when i was out of this locale. Two kids hitch on the road in front, how small and insignificant we appear but in such a different way than in the desert with broad spanses and vistas, and a seemingly lack of life – the bare earth, the sky and us. Here is it the life forms that are much greater – trees and ferns and salal and more – both the earth and sky hard to see, for life abounds, and we are just such a small part of it. Life on the surface that is so visible, all manifesting into form, all manifesting so large and grand.

Ferns are some of the oldest life forms around, and the redwoods are ancient trees, which once lived in so many other locales, their range now limited to this narrow strip of land. Here ancient forms are still alive, ancient life continuing on into the present, living in the here and now – not merely emerging from rocks and stone. All becomes manifested into the 3D. I feel the density of it all though i am 10 miles inland, out of the deep fog belt of the coast, where air condenses into a thick haze. Here the element of water, of emotions, is so present, though now the sun shines on through.

The life i called forth – life in the trees, where the life of people is in harmony, different elements dancing together. Here the plant life grows in harmony – it is us who can seem out of place. It is not merely the redwood trees, but the diversity of life forms – the ferns, the sorrel, the moss, the rhododendrons, berries, alder, salal, trillium and more that grow together, intermingle, give each other life. we focus on the largest, the tallest, but they are all part of this zone, they all are part of the intricate dance – a dance that includes the animals and birds, and yes, today, us.

The sky is now grey – much more typical of this twilight zone, this zone where the giants thrive. I walk around, no people about, myself and the trees and the plants, green live thrives, lush and magnificence. All forms in denseness become manifest – in morphological fields. It is a twilight zone – i imagine dinosaurs roaming around, giants of the past, and wonder if they still do, invisible to us now. All feels so old and enduring, the past living on, clinging on, taking hold. I remember the petrified forest in Arizona, huge logs turned to stone, all dry and barren, with fossils of dinosaurs and ancient forests about, destroyed in some great cataclysm. I remember that place that felt of life destroyed, and i remember this images that came to me the last time i was here, of waves seeping over the land.

For now all life is showing, the life that remains. It is green, more green than i imagined, the green that i so yearned for, the green of the heart and of life. Still it feels heavy, pressing down, so much energy caught in moisture, and what has become form. Thought forms hang on, emotions come alive, energy condenses in bodies and in my joints, even the redwoods have burls. And i am a small part of this all.
Mosquitoes fly around my face, a nibble here and there. I feel insignificant – then i look at the tree stumps, those that were cut down, and i see how much power (wo)man can have, despite our size – how we have cut so much of this down. A mosquito bites again – i remember their power – able to cut us down – malaria, dengue, west nile and more. how they can cut us down with the poisons that lay inside, that they transmit, that have taken hold in them. size has little to do with power, and as another bites, i realize i am just a part of the chain of life. I sleep beneath the trees once again.

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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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Entry to energy line

Red rocks and twisted trees.
Red rocks, red soil,
twisted trees
a vortex, or energetic hotspot
something is here
all is dry
a different feel
than other lands where i have been.

feminine stones, soft and flowing
i imagine lava bending into shape
yielding,

the wind blows
in this bend,
louder here
as if to speak.

Clouds float overhead
My camera does not capture the red.
Around a corner there is more.

Twisted trunks shedding bark
seemingly dead
but with tiny leaves or needles up above

An energy that is unfamiliar
one that is strong,
wind blows again
a high-pitched sound in my ears
a sound not of the wind
a power is here
and i feel it

a dried up creek
but is it
an energetic line

i walk on, up the path
the zigs and zags up the hill
crossing this line
and something is there
veins of minerals, or more?
I know there is more.

I am walking up Red Hill, just on the edge of Carbondale. It is my first time here. As i had passed by on a few occasions, on the bus, these vibrant hills of red called to me. The last time i noticed a parking lot by an intersection where the bus would drop me, and people with dogs heading up what looked to be a fire road. So i came.

A series of trails for mountain bikes, joggers, people walking there dogs starts just up the road on the BLM lands that extends for miles. I veer to the left on the Three Gulch Trail, the one that is furthest from the highway noise. I had read, that the views from this area are wonderful, and that they are, of the valley below, the mountains, especially of the snow covered Sopris peak that glimmers under the changing sky.

But it is the land on this hill that calls to me, that speaks to me. The rocks that seem playful and gentle, the spindly trees that twist around, telling of something in the ground, Despite the cars below, few people are around, and those that pass me as i take almost an hour to walk a mile, stopping at so many places, seem unaware, jogging to get fit, conquering the trails on mountain bikes, or prattling on about the mundane concerns of daily life – not hearing the power of the land, or at least not deeply, for something calls them here.

I look out beyond, and then at the rocks and trees, A power calls to me as i approach an area, one that seems more alive, and different. The rocks call as do the trees and what seems to be a dried up creek or energy line, a vortex perhaps. All becomes sharper and clearer, and i feel different, The sound in my ears, pressure in my head, a sense of energy moving through my brain as my nose twitches and becomes more alive. The earth is red. So many gatherings of worn, gentle stones, a woman reclining before a tree and i smile. In contrast to the soft nature of the rocks, the trees are twisted and contorted, as if reacting to pulses below.

I reach the top, the land has turned grey, a different strata of rock. The magic is gone, a different period revealed up here. I descend, take another path down, less alive, more travelled it seems, away from that line or creek or vein that called. Then i come upon another cluster, and feel something more again. I walk down, and as i hit the dirt road, my left arm starts swinging on its own like a pendulum, as if acting independently, picking something up. This happened a few days before, as i was on another red hill, the Red Mountain Trails by Glenwood Springs, and as i descended, my left arm took on a life of its own, and my hand felt like the hand of another. What i am picking up in this land? What secrets does it contain?

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I walk along the Glenwood Canyon trail from town listening to the traffic on the highway that runs beside. I have no idea of the transformation that will come when i turn the corner and enter into the Glenwood Canyon itself. 

But i get an inkling that something special might lay ahead, as i near both the footbridge that will take me across the highway, and the tunnel that will take the cars away for a short while. I have been looking at the cliffs and the rocks, and suddenly a figure appears to me, overlooking the path and the highway on the north side.

Guardian overlooking path as i approach glenwood canyon from the west

I pause, and am taken over, and wonder what lay ahead. I wonder if any of the cars exiting the tunnel and the canyon from the east notice this spirit that looks over the road, watching all that pass through. But he faces the other way. do the cars who enter this area see?

 
On the other, southern, side of the highway is another spirit in stone, a reddish hue like the steeper wall that lay behind. I did not notice him on my way in, but on my return. he smiles down.

Overlooking the highway - west end of glenwood canyon

 These figures, while the most majestic, only provide a hint of the energies in the canyon they guard. I only explore a small area, around Horseshoe Bend where the path and canyon vere away from the highway on the way to the no name rest area (yes, that is its name). being a narrow canyon in mountainous terrain, both the highway and the railroad tracks closely follow the banks of the Colorado River. I have been through on the train, but on foot i connect in a special way (you can also bike the canyon which is what most people do)

I cross the footbridge, and soon am in another world, the world of the canyon itself. traffic has been diverted through a tunnel, so i feel myself with the elements. The Colorado river runs full in a rainy spring after a winter with heavy snow, so it is the sound of it that i hear.

The walls are steep and reddish with a few trees. What strikes me is the vertical thrust of the layers of stone, and i am reminded of areas on the pacific coast. I ask myself, if somehow, in some ancient way, there is some sort of connection between the two. I am relaxed and calm and walk by this area where i will return and become transformed.

I walk to the rest area, past homes, and then return to the sacred zone of this bend in the river. I look up and see a figure – one so much like another that called to me on the Monterey, CA coast – the one that i had called last kiss. The figures was here as well, close to 6000 ft above sea level and over a 1000 miles inland.

Last Kiss #2

 But it is the wall in the bend that comes alive. Several picnic tables sit under a shelter by the river facing a steep wall. As is often the case, the placement of benches, shelters, lookouts and more, shows that we have an inner knowing, a sense of sacred places.

The first time i sit, the wall becomes alive, faces emerge showing me that life is contained within. all becomes crisper, clearer, and simultaneously, less dense. The faces speak to me, but few let me take their picture. Once again, a few i remind me of others i have seen elsewhere. One area is full of spirits, emerging and fading, all having an openness, and reminding me not to look away.

Crawling out of canyon wall

 He reminds me of the being who appeared in a tree trunk in yosemite, calming me,  after the ‘scarier’ spirits had revealed themselves there. Others are nearby, but the camera will not pick them up. Nearby, another looks out.

Ancient guardian on the wall

The photos become less clear, and they say it is time to look and listen and just to be, the messages will emerge. And that i do. 

I return another day, to the same place, sit on the bench, quiet and calm. The world comes alive as i sing to myself, the canyon wall forming a backdrop for the dance of live contained below. A bush with the new leaves of spring becomes vibrant and alive, the lush lime green standing out, a contrast with the reddish hues beyond; the river that flows full, dances, and small brilliant yellow birds fly above the water, emerging and disappearing into the ledges of the canyon wall. Life is so much more than the stones of old, it is here and now, it dances and my spirit dances too.

I walk again, and the whole area becomes unreal for a moment. The rocks lose their density, and i am one with the all. A woman appears further down, carved into the stone. I had noticed the indentation before, but now it becomes something more.

Female saint of the wall

She looks down, motherly and nurturing. And i feel nurtured myself.

I return to the place where i was before, heavy clouds come in with rain, and then blue sky emerges again. Another face appears, speaks again, the bushes and trees and river become alive, and then it is time to go. At the bend, is one face i see looking over.

Face on the bend

I cross over the footbridge and out of the magical canyon. I walk along the path beside the highway. It starts to rain again. But now i embrace the rain, the all, for i have been transformed, the spirits have spoken, and my spirit has come alive once again, as has hope. 

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