Friday, August 22, 2008

a beginning

although it was never so technically labeled when i was growing up in rural virginia, hiking has always been my therapeutic modality of choice. walking, hiking, trekking, or exploring, as i thought of it as a child, has always reached me on simultaneously visceral and ethereal planes. the way i've come to relate to the outdoors and the sustenance i derive from that interaction surpasses the romanticized and often farcical notion of "communing with nature" and is more an opportunity to reflect on and be intimate with things and processes much bigger than me.
when i'm gazing out at a mountain vista, listening to waves lap a shoreline, or watching a forest's arms close around me, i look on the moment like a snapshot. at first i see a fixed and fleeting point in time, a picture of a state of being. then, that photograph dissolves and i begin to take in the thousands of smaller and more complex photographs that contribute to the bigger picture. it's when i see the WHOLE scene in front of me and then realize that that scene is ALWAYS taking place that i am strangely and strongly grounded and contemporaneously uprooted.
i feel so small because that scene, that process, is going to happen with or without me...but i'm at the same time magnified because i'm IN the scene NOW...i'm a PART of it...i'm part of the perpetual, the unstoppable. it's in those swirling moments of synchronous significance and insignificance that my head clears and my own doors to myself open and i can truly reflect.
this week, my meditative hiking practice evolved to a new level as i hiked for longer, higher, and harder than ever before. this past wednesday, we hiked pike's peak. pike's peak is america's most visited mountain and second in the world only to mt. fuji in japan. we made our ascent via the barr trail, a 12.6 mile hiking trail from the base (6,600 feet) to the summit at 14,110 feet. our arduous journey began at 3:30 a.m. and we hiked for roughly seven hours before finally reaching the summit. as we made our way up the nearly 13 mile trail, there were definitely spasms of frantic dehydrated delirium but also were there plenty of moments of clarity where we could be alone with our thoughts...a hike to be remembered to be sure.
it's epic (at least epic at this stage of our hikerhood) treks like this that challenge us and bolster our ambition to eventually get back to the east coast to do the 2,175 mile Appalachian Trail. the history and mystical allure of the Trail, the opportunity to test one's fortitude, and the chance to be part of something so personal yet so universal has long made the AT an aspiration of ours. in the pursuit of that dream, we've chosen to look on our pikes peak ascent as a commencement....our training has begun.



maggi said...

baby, you forgot to mention that the hike included 32 degree weather in august, snow, ryder and i hitchhiking, and me sobbing. but the day did end with us in a hotel room hot tub watching bear grylls' man vs. wild on t.v. ;)

T said...

Rock on! *We* communed with nature this weekend by sitting on our arses on the beach at Cape May--a surprisingly lovely place--and eating Greek food :-)