Archive for May, 2012

Writers are bad publicists, I’m told. Agreed. Public self-disclosure seems odd to me—especially right now on the cusp of summer, which is my one long private moment to walk up in the mountains and let my feet wander wherever, because it’s what I want to do and where I want to be. There are no witnesses to declare it good, bad, funny or entertaining, and that’s not the point anyway. It’s my own happy moment spread out over an entire season, starting in mid-June and running into September.

Morning at the Lake

Sometimes, I go on outrageous hikes when I get super excited about a place or hatch an idea from the coffee shop or couch, and then I get into all kinds of trouble and call it adventure. But that’s rare.

Most of the time, I simply stroll in beautiful places and feel fantastic for no particular reason. There is no goal, achievement or purpose. There is only the present moment, and it’s more than good enough. The Sierra Nevada is so perfectly formed, so outstanding, picturesque and sensuous, it’s impossible not to be happy there, and if I’m unhappy, I know it’s because of something that I’ve brought with me, a complexity or conflict, which is on mind. But just by hiking in Yosemite, I’m able to problem solve without working too hard; I just follow my thoughts wherever they lead and the answer eventually arrives. But since I want to enjoy the mountains as they are and not really think about anything at all, I try to deal with issues sooner rather than later, with some success and some failure, always with the best intentions.

Here are two quotes that beautifully summarize these opposing approaches to life and hiking.  I found them in an article on resiliency.

Helen Keller:“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Anne Frank: “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.”


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Redwall Canyon in Better Days

Thank you, whoever you are, for making what was hard, so easy…

Because it’s wonderful when you have one last photo to take for your hiking book, and you want every picture in the book to be your own. And this particular spot is so incredibly inconvenient to get to, so out of the way, that it’s been left for last, and I’ve got to go get it right now. And I had to temporarily shelve those two urgent water stories I’m working on, so that I could walk three miles across a dusty wash in the Mojave desert, to that spot where there is a 25-foot dry waterfall, the spot where I fell so many years ago, and just barely missed hitting the ground with my head, if weren’t for that tiny piece of nylon. My old beau dangled his pack over the edge in case I fell, just after we had one of those relationship talks, the kind where you reach an impasse and there is nothing left to say, except Goodbye. But there was one last rescue, which shows just how ambiguous relationships can be. And it’s symbolic, you see, to be dangling off the edge, with just a nylon strap between you and the other person and the other side of things. You know what I mean?

Redwall Canyon with the Ladder and Rope

I couldn’t wait to see it. Would the waterfall be as slick or as mysterious or as tall, as I remembered?  Maybe, my mind had colored the canyon differently; maybe, my new eyes would see it as lighter or easier, no big deal, what with all the growth and maturity that I’ve acquired over the last decade. But thank God, someone came out here and built a wooden ladder in that spot, and in case, it wasn’t easy enough, they put a blue rope next to it. Not to worry, if you fall off the ladder, there’s a rope to grab. That way you can’t possibly feel challenged or threatened by the only hard part of this canyon hike. Really, thank you, for making it easy. I will add a caveat to my book, The Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost: Hard Hikes for Wild Women, and will consider changing the title to Sometimes Hard Hikes for Girls who want Safety.

The Corkscrew Peak Sign (the only help available)

I had to recover from this. And just to be sure, you hadn’t gotten to Corkscrew Peak and flattened it, or put in a trail or a road to help us out, I bagged it right after. Thankfully, it was just as steep, hard and fun as I remembered, although someone put in a lot of cairns, and I suspect it’s the ranger who left a note in the ammo can at the top to “hike safe.” I placed five business cards in the peak box myself and wrapped them in an American flag. Now, the only way to verify that’s true is to go bag it yourself.

Pardon me now, I have some driving to do.

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